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Words Savannah Tafau-Levy 

Fans were encouraged to come dressed in their pyjamas and donate new pairs or money to help Kidz First with their initiative.

As well as raising a “magnificent” sum, over 200 brand new sleepwear items - including pyjamas, slippers, dressing gowns and more than a few multi-packs of underwear - were also donated.

Leading up to the game, Vodafone Warriors James Gavet, Jazz Tevaga, Manaia Cherrington and Blake Ayshford also paid the kids a visit in the children’s playroom at Middlemore hospital.

The players enjoyed spending time with the children and helped leave their mark by leaving painted palmprints on the superstar wall.

Middlemore Foundation public relations officer David Kemeys, writing in Sir Peter Leitch’s newsletter, said the visit couldn’t have been better.

"Kidz First had a magnificent response of $3.5k from the buckets, over 200 pairs of pyjamas."

“If you think a few Warriors probably does not make a difference to the kids, I can tell you that it does,” Kemeys said.

“The Warriors seem to really connect with the kids, who just love having them about.”

Kemeys then attended the Friday night clash and said the response was beyond what his organisation could have imagined.

Around the stadium were drop off points and donation buckets for people to support the cause. There was also a raffle off in the corporate lounge where Kemeys was on hand to announce the winners. 

The stadium’s catering company, Epicure, also donated close to $1,000 to the cause as well after agreeing to give one dollar from every punnet of hot chips sold.

Children who are warm in winter are less likely to become ill or be admitted to hospital with preventable illnesses like acute rheumatic fever. Within our region there are about 125,000 children under the age of 15 and 54 percent of these children live in impoverished conditions.

About 320 children are admitted to Kidz First in January each year but the number increases to more than 700 when winter takes hold in August.

“We are proud to support Kidz First and want to say a massive thanks to our fans, members, sponsors and partners for helping make a difference to the lives of children in need,” Vodafone Warriors community manager Petrece Kesha said.

“We’ve supported the initiative for a long time now and are already looking forward to doing the same in 2018.”

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