Providing a fun family friendly community event lead Anita Ruigrok to being Volunteer of the Month

13 January 2022 | Articles

Providing a fun family friendly community event lead Anita Ruigrok to being Volunteer of the Month

If you had 150 boxes in your shed people might think you were moving, unless you were Anita from the Rakaia district and then they might know you were busy creating headstones, cats, coffins, pumpkins, and a vast array of Halloween themed decorations. Anita is this month’s Volunteering Mid & South Canterbury/ Te Rōpū Tūao i te waenga o Waitaha and the Hotel Ashburton Volunteer of the Month. She was behind the Halloween night in Rakaia last month.

Originally from the Netherlands where in the spring months there was always community activities and events in her hometown, she looked for something similar when she moved here in 2014.

With a desire to bring the community together in a fun way in 2020 she and a friend decorated the friends garden, and the community came and enjoyed it. They were asked to do it again, so thinking big Anita decided to move it to a community space.

Knowing the Rakaia Scout group were needing funds, she approached them to see if it could be a joint project at the Scout den. From around 70 people in 2020 over 500 turned up for the 2021 event and raised about $1000 for Scouts.

A child friendly event took place in the late afternoon and in the evening an older young person’s scary event was held.

Anita and her team of helpers especially Leanne Wright and family, Terri Doig and family and Amy Luckhurst drew, painted, assembled, and then put up the hundreds of pieces and decorations to create a Halloween village complete with fake blood, black cats, chain saws, spiders. A small team of set the display up which involved many hours of work.

It took a considerable number of hours to make all the pieces. Getting to where things were stored and bringing people together to during lockdown impacted the project but with lots of hours the team pulled off a wonderful community event meeting all the Health and Safety requirements

Local businesses and contractors came on board in a variety of ways to support Anita’s vision and dreams.

Planning is already underway for a community Halloween event in central Canterbury in 2022.