ST John Central Region fundraising and marketing manager Jeanette Horan joins Opotiki New World store manager Ross Carter in placing the first sticker on the fundraising thermometer. Photo James Sandbrook OB4808-01

FUNDRAISING efforts for a St John Opotiki District health shuttle officially launched this week.

The goal is to raise $150,000, which would supply a purpose-built shuttle and cover operating costs for a minimum of two years.

This means Opotiki residents without access to a vehicle will be able to attend medical appointments outside the district, free with an optional donation.

The campaign launched on Tuesday at Opotiki New World, where shoppers have the option of adding a dollar, or more, to their grocery bill during October to support the shuttle.

To help keep track of donations, a large thermometer has been erected near the checkouts.

Store manager Ross Carter said this was the store’s first collaboration with St John, and an opportunity for the community.

Mr Carter echoed the sentiment on the St John thermometer;

“It’s for the community, by the community,” he said.

Opotiki St John area committee secretary Angela Bryan said St John would also have a presence at upcoming events in the community, giving extra opportunities to donate.

The shuttle is currently being purpose-built in Europe and is expected to arrive early-to-mid next year.

This will allow Opotiki residents to make medical appointments in Whakatane and beyond, with other shuttle services ferrying passengers to specialist clinics like those in Tauranga.