7 Dec 2018

Pre-Christmas pamper for those in need

5:43 pm on 7 December 2018

An errant piece of chewing gum provided the unlikely inspiration for a pre-Christmas pampering event in New Plymouth.

Agnes Leheke.

Agnes Leheke. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

A group of volunteers at St Joseph's Church washed hair, painted nails and gave massages to people unable to afford the full salon treatment ahead of the big day.

Among them was Gabrielle Carman who is more used to serving meals at St Joseph's community dinners than being on the end of a hair dryer.

Ms Carman helps run the Thursday evening meals. She said it was here that the idea for a pre-Christmas pampering session was born.

A dinner guest asked for help with some chewing gum that had become stuck in her hair, she explained.

"The person who was helping her said 'You've got lovely hair' and the minute that compliment was passed that person stood up straight and smiled. The whole demeanour just changed and we realised that often the people we see don't get many compliments."

Ms Carman said that got the volunteers thinking what else they could do for the diners.

"So today we are here running a Christmas pampering session because it occurred to us that that many of the people we serve and see couldn't afford the luxury of painted nails and primped and primed hair and stuff that makes them feel good over Christmas."

And the punters were loving it.

Judy Somerville was getting her hair washed by parishioner Precy Westbury.

"Well this lady is doing a wonderful job and she's not a hairdresser," she said.

"It's such a beautiful thing they are putting on for everyone. I think it's awesome."

Sacred Heart Girl's College student Anna Waayer, was painting Margaret Marsh's nails.

Ms Marsh knew she was onto a good thing.

"Well you've usually got to pay for it. This is free and you meet some real nice people."

Ms Marsh already had Anna's measure.

Margaret Marsh.

Margaret Marsh. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"She's got another year at Sacred Heart. She wants to be a scientist."

Anna, 16, was enjoying the experience too.

"I think it's nice to just give back to the community sometimes because I know there's a lot of people who do different things to help out so it's nice just to be able to give back yourself once in a while."

Agnes Leheke was giving Eileen Donovan the benefit of her podiatry experience.

"Well I'm taking the callouses back and I've just trimmed the nails and painted them and it's looking pretty good."

Ms Leheke said she was also feeling the love.

"I saw the ad in the church newsletter and I thought what a wonderful thing. We don't give to each other enough."

Community dinner regular Gary McGill was on the receiving end of Ms Carman's hair dryer.

Gabrielle Carman with community dinner regular Ken Ranford.

Gabrielle Carman with community dinner regular Ken Ranford. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"It's just one of those lovely days, eh. You know it's nice for a lot of people to do a lot good things for people."

Ms Carman wanted everyone to leave the event with a new spring in their step.

"I hope they understand when they leave that people do care about people, even people they don't know."

The evening wrapped up with a visit from Mr and Mrs Santa Claus and everyone went home with a goodie bag of donated treats.

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