CHRISTMAS is meant to be a joyful time of year where families and friends come together to celebrate.
The harsh reality is that many families in the Port Macquarie-Hastings area struggle financially to provide for their children and loved ones.
A Christmas without family, after fleeing from domestic violence, without comfort and peace of mind after bills have mounted up, or a Christmas without a roof over your head, after losing your home – these are the real challenges facing so many people who have fallen on hard times.
Each year the Vinnies Christmas Appeal by St Vincent de Paul Society provides food, clothes, toys, hampers and more to struggling families and 2018 will be no different.
Vinnies op shop Port Macquarie coordinator, Susan Davis, has been at the helm for seven years and has seen how this time of the year impacts those who are struggling.
"I'd say there would be quite a lot of people still struggling come Christmas. Clothes, more than anything else, is what people are looking out for," she said.
"As a community we can help by donating to the Christmas appeal with cash towards hampers and also donating clothes and goods.
People can be more generous donating unwanted toys because there are many families in the Hastings with children who need gifts this Christmas.Susan Davis
"People can be more generous donating unwanted toys because there are many families in the Hastings with children who need gifts this Christmas."
She warned against throwing any old thing in the donation bin, because it will likely end up at the tip.
"It would be good if people are more careful with what they donate," she said.
"A lot of items have to be thrown as they are old, dirty and not sellable."
St Vincent de Paul Society NSW President Denis Walsh said in 2018 more people than ever will experience homelessness over Christmas.
"There’s over 116,000 people across Australia either sleeping on the streets, in temporary or inadequate dwellings, or in halfway-solutions like boarding houses or crisis accommodation," he said.
“But it doesn’t need to be that way. Your generosity can help bring joy and comfort to people this Christmas. Because your donations will mean the chance of a better future.”
The latest government figures show that at least one in 10 people pay more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, meaning they do not have a lot left over for food and bills, let alone Christmas gifts.
Donations to the Vinnies Christmas Appeal 2018 can be made at www.vinnies.org.au, phoning 13 18 12, or at any Vinnies Shop.
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