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They may have bowed out earlier than expected in last year’s World Cup, but New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, have proved that they are still at the top of their game after two wins against England in the last two weeks, and a veritable annihilation of Ireland the week before that. And now the world famous squad – who are well known for their charity work – have announced their official charity for the next three years.

The partnership with KidsCan was announced at a special event at a South Auckland school earlier today that saw team member Ali Williams handing out raincoats to raise school attendances.

“We are really proud to have KidsCan as the official charity of the All Blacks,” said team captain Richie McCaw. “The team is keen to support organizations that help more New Zealand kids be healthy and happy.”

The charity – founded three years ago by Julie Helson and Carl Sunderland after their research project showed that wet weather gear, good shoes and a lack of food were the main factors that stopped children from attending school – replaces Save the Children as the team’s official charity. KidsCan said they hand out over 240,000 meals to low-decile New Zealand school children every year.

“The association with the All Blacks will raise the profile of KidsCan so that every household in New Zealand is aware of how significant the issue of child poverty has become,” said Helson. “There are thousands of Kiwi kids going to school cold and hungry and this has a major impact on their ability to learn. There are too many children in New Zealand who are missing out on basic needs we take for granted. For us as a charity it’s what we do – it’s about giving them a hand up.”

The charity hopes the All Blacks’ endorsement will help them expand and meet the needs of the 17,000 children on their waiting list.

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