OfficeMax is donating more than 200,000 bottles of hand sanitiser to charities across New Zealand ahead of the cold and flu season, equal to more than $1.9 million at retail value and the equivalent of 115 metric tonnes.

What began as an internal initiative in June to contact charities in need, quickly escalated with more than 100,000 bottles donated so far.

OfficeMax is now inviting charities, and community organisations in Auckland and Christchurch that would like to request hand sanitiser to email sanitiser@officemax.co.nz to receive free bottles for members of their communities this winter.

The operation will see products ranging from small (375ml) and medium sized (500ml) pump bottles to large refill bottles (1-5L) being distributed to hundreds more New Zealand charities and community groups from its Auckland and Christchurch distribution centres to help fight the spread of germs.

Since the beginning of June, 28,504 bottles have been redirected to more than 30 different community organisations via All Heart NZ, while a further 15,120 bottles have been given to more than 12 charities via the New Zealand Food Network.