Christmas is a joyful time for many of us. We shower our family and friends with love and presents and gather around a table full of food. But for some 400,000 Victorians, the festive season bring little joy as they worry about how to make ends meet. For them, not being able to have a basic meal this Christmas is the reality.
Santa's Cave / Image courtesy of Connections UnitingCare
As I searched for the "Best of Xmas" for readers and myself, I realised that one of the best ways to create precious moments and put smiles on the faces of loved ones, was to do something good together this Xmas. I exchanged notes with Emeline Suteau from the Victorian Division of United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA VIC) and we believe we found something worthwhile doing from Connections UnitingCare.
Connections UnitingCare is a community organisation with a successful history of supporting marginalised and disadvantaged children, young people and families in Melbourne. From 11 locations across Melbourne's south east, this humble non-profit offers a range of early intervention programs that assist 2,000 people facing difficulties each week.
For Paige, who has been supported by Connections via the Stronger Families program, she understands that life can be challenging at times but the extra expectations and pressures around Christmas with presents can create that extra level of stress. With four children and another due in March, Paige can often relate to other families who are struggling at this time of year.
For Julianne and Rick in Cranbourne, they turned their grief and loss of young daughter, Chanel into something good for the less fortunate in their community, with over AUD2,200 donation of gifts.
This Christmas season, the Connections UnitingCare continues to work at supplying food and gifts to local families in need through its "Christmas Food & Gift Appeal".
Now in its 12th year, the Appeal supports many disadvantaged children, young people and families who would otherwise struggle during the festive season. Last year, the Appeal supplied more than 5,900 gifts and 600 food hampers to such individuals and families.
Connections' Communications Officer, Kirrilee Torney shared with me that the Appeal delivers important Christmas items directly to those most in need. Through the generous donations by members of local communities, Connections UnitingCare case workers are sometimes able to help their clients find the items they require.
For the Appeal to help the disadvantaged parents and kids, it really relies on the goodwill of the local communities. Without your generous support for the Appeal, food and gifts will not reach those most in need.
Perhaps the true meaning of Christmas is not just found in visiting the Christmas Square, opening a David Jones gift box, sharing a Christmas Day Lunch at the Melbourne Marriott or at the bottom of a Moët & Chandon champagne glass with family and friends, but doing something good for someone else in your community.
If you can spare extras like a tin of soup, a packet of pasta, a can of tuna, a box of biscuits, a bottle of fruit juice, a bag of rice in your weekly grocery shopping or an extra gift when you're buying Christmas presents, you can help put smiles on other children and help a family of four enjoy a Christmas meal.
So do something good this Christmas. Gather your partner, kids and friends and donate your spare food and gifts to any Connections offices located in Blackburn, Cranbourne, Croydon, Dandenong, Mount Waverley, Narre Warren, Ringwood, Pakenham or Windsor.