A visit to a South Auckland soup kitchen this week hit close to home for New Zealand Warriors winger Ken Maumalo.
On Tuesday, Maumalo visited the LIFE Soup Kitchen in Mangere, which is located just minutes from the home he grew up in and still shares with his parents.
Maumalo helped prepare food, serve meals and mingled with families, alongside fellow Warriors Paul Turner, Agnatius Paasi, Leeson Ah Mau and Patrick Herbert.
The 24-year-old told NRL.com it was a special experience to lend a helping hand in his own community.
"I live just down the road from the kitchen… it's my first time visiting. I grew up in Mangere my whole life but didn't know this place was here," Maumalo said.
"I always hold Mangere close to my heart, I sort of know where these families are coming from and what their struggles are.
"It was good to see all the kids have a good feed and for us to put a smile on their faces, which is really rewarding for us."
Kitchen manager Kahu Iupati said the visit had created a buzz for their regular visitors.
"To see the community beaming with excitement at being served by some of their favourite NRL stars made the evening extra special," Iupati told NRL.com.
Warriors serving Mangere East community at Life Soup Kitchen
"LIFE Soup Kitchen is more than a meal, it brings the community together and last night exemplified that."
Now a capped New Zealand and Toa Samoa international with five seasons at Telstra Premiership level to his name, Maumalo said such visits help ensure players never forget where they came from.
"These are the moments that keep you grounded and humble as a person and a player," Maumalo told NRL.com.
"No matter how far I get or what I do, I know where I come from and I want to help out any way I can.
"I know we get well looked after at the top in footy, but this is refreshing the brain and reminding myself that this is where I come from.
"No matter how far you get or how big your name is, these are your roots. It's awesome to give back."
The LIFE Soup Kitchen serves up to 200 meals per evening across four Auckland locations and is part of the wider LIFE Community Group. For more information about the kitchen visit www.lifecommunity.org.nz.