The Port Macquarie community has dug deep to support the Salvation Army, just in time for the charity's busiest period of the year.
Up to 1600 people flocked to Sovereign Hills on Sunday, December 3, for the annual Community Carols hosted by the Grace Church and Friends.
During four hours of musical performances and free family entertainment, $4500 was raised for the Port Macquarie Hastings Salvos Christmas Appeal, which will help deliver food hampers and gifts to those who need it most this Christmas.
Grace Church Pastor Greg Campion spearheaded the event with the help of the local church community and sponsors, including the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Pycon, Hastings Co-op, Meltique Beef, Lake Cathie Health Complex and Sovereign Hills.
"The atmosphere was amazing," Pastor Campion said. "Everyone gathered in close together, on chairs and rugs, [and] stayed through the short thunderstorm burst."
"We gave out over 1500 sausages and 1000 drinks and coffees, and the kids decorated a massive 500 cupcakes.
"The extra boost came through four other church groups working together; Lifeway, St Thomas' Anglican and Port Macquarie Seventh-Day Adventist churches, and the Salvation Army.
"All chipped in with additional activities, equipment, volunteers and musicians, [to make] the extra-sized event possible."
The carols were compered by former LEGO Masters contestant Caleb Campion, and brought together local school choirs and bands from Westport Public School, St Joseph's Regional College and St Columba Anglican School.
Sovereign Hills developer Lewis Land Group sponsored the event, which was held on the greens opposite the Sovereign Place Town Centre. It also provided a boost to the Salvos Christmas Appeal with $7000 in gift cards and children's toys.
"This Christmas the Salvos will provide support and hope to more than 200 Hastings families. We are in awe of their amazing work and impact throughout the community and we hope our donation means they can extend their reach and make this festive season a little brighter for more local children and adults," a Sovereign Hills spokesperson said.
Port Macquarie Hastings Salvation Army Captain Peter Gott, said there had been an increase in people accessing their services not just this Christmas, but throughout the year.
"Us Aussies don't actually like to ask for help," Captain Gott said.
"We don't want to give the perception we don't have it all at times, so to come and have to lay down your pride can be a difficult process.
"We're so grateful for the community's support and generosity. It will ensure we have enough toys to go around, and we know picking a gift for a teenager can be difficult so gift vouchers go a long way to ensuring they can choose what they like [while taking] the pressure off parents."