How Families Can Give Back at Christmas Time

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There is no doubt that 2021has been challenging as COVID-19 has upended our lives. It’s been an ordeal as we’ve faced lockdowns, school shutdowns, working from home and lots of social distancing! There are many who are doing it tough as they’ve lost jobs or income, been separated from friends and family and have faced stress and anxiety due to the ongoing pandemic.

This holiday season, let’s think of others and practice the true gift of giving. Donating goods or volunteering your time is a great way for your family to give to those in need in our local community and spread holiday cheer in 2021.

No matter how old your kids are, there are lots of different ways to give and contribute to your local community. You can create a bag for Share the Dignity or Soul Cafe, donate an unwrapped toy or donate online. Get them involved in choosing items to donate to someone in need. Show them how a small act of giving goes a long way and help those less fortunate around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & the Hunter.

Create a bag for Share the Dignity – FINISHED

Donate a bag as part of the Share The Dignity’s It’s In The Bag campaign. Fill up a bag (new or barely used) with a list of essentials that they list on their website. Plus, you can add in extras to make someone feel special such as makeup, accessories, moisturiser, face masks, hand cream, nail polish, books, etc.

There are three different types of bags you can make: Adult bag, Teen bag or Mum and Bub bag. Once you’ve packed your bag, drop it off at your local Bunnings between 21 and 28 November 2021. You can find the collection box at the front of Bunnings stores. 

Your donation will go directly to someone living in crisis and in need of support during what could be one of the most difficult times in their life. Share the Dignity support people from all different backgrounds, those fleeing domestic violence, experiencing homelessness and those doing it tough. 

Join in the fun of the Bikers For Kids Newcastle Toy Run

The Bikers for Kids Newcastle Toy Run is an annual community fundraising event benefiting the Salvos’ local Christmas Appeal. It is held on the first Sunday of December each year (5 December 2021) to raise funds for disadvantaged families and provide toys for kids that would otherwise go without this Christmas. Rider assembly is from 8am at Stockton for a 10am departure ride to a Community Fun Day at Wickham Park. Take part as a rider or a spectator. There are lots of prizes for best dressed including best dressed kid, best dresses individual adult and best dressed family. Donating to the toy run is a great way to give back this Christmas, monetary donations or toy donations are welcomed. The Newcastle Toy Run is the oldest annual event of its kind in Australia and the only RMS and police approved and escorted ride.

Christmas Toy and Hamper Drive at Jesmond Neighbourhood Centre

Jesmond Neighbourhood Centre offer various programs to assist the community with everyday needs.  Currently, they are running a toy and non-perishable food drive for our community.  They are accepting new toys, gift cards (iTunes, etc) etc suitable for children of all ages. They are also organising food hampers to give to families to help celebrated the festive season. Closing date for drop-offs is Tuesday 14 December 2021.

Bring a can of food for free play at Kids World Playland

Kids World Playland in Greenhills is proudly supporting Foodbank NSW/ACT this Christmas with their annual Christmas appeal. Kids World Playland in Stockland Green Hills will be hosting a FREE PLAY day on December 14 and all children need to do is bring along a 400g can of food each to trade for a FREE entry. Help those who need it most this Christmas and head down to Kids World Playland for unlimited play and fun by donating a can of food for Foodbank NSW/ACT. Please respect that they do have a no outside food or drink policy with the exception of bottled water and NUT-FREE baby puree. Grip-free socks must also be worn by both adults and children in all of our play areas. 

Donate a gift to The Wishing Tree at Kmart

The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal is Australia’s largest and longest-running Christmas gift appeal. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Australian community, the Appeal has raised more than 8 million gifts that have been distributed to those in need by The Salvation Army.

The Wishing Tree Appeal runs from 8 November to 24 December 2021. With your gifts in tow, visit your local Kmart store and head to the Wishing Tree Station. Here you will find a sticker sheet containing two stickers. Please fill out the gift tag sticker by ticking the correct age bracket for your gift and then attach it to your gift and place it in the gift giving boxes at the base of the Wishing Tree. You can also drop your gift at the Click & Collection location at any Kmart store. A Salvation Army representative will then collect the gifts from Kmart stores and oversee their distribution to those in need.

Gifts do not need to be purchased at Kmart, nor do they need to be wrapped. The Appeal is unable to accept used or second-hand gifts.

Wish list items include:

  • Gift cards
  • Books
  • Sporting equipment
  • Back to school supplies
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Headphones
  • Educational toys
  • Toiletries
  • Musical instruments

You can also make a monetary contribution by scanning a Wishing Tree tag at any Kmart store register, do an online donation via scanning a QR code in store, or dropping a coin in a coin collection box located at the registers. Local participating stores include Glendale, Kotara, Maitland, Salamander Bay and Waratah.

Mayor’s Christmas Appeal

Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser invites the Lake Macquarie community to share the joy of Christmas with those less fortunate by donating to the Mayor’s Christmas Appeal for 2021.

The Mayor’s Christmas Appeal is conducted in conjunction with the Samaritans. All donations, whether it be donated toys, gifts and non-perishable items will relieve some of the pressure on families and individuals who are facing hardship or financial challenges this Christmas. Items can be dropped off at any Lake Mac Libraries branch, or Council’s Speers Point administration building, until Thursday 16 December.

Provide toys to sick or injured kids at John Hunter Children’s Hospital

Each year, John Hunter Children’s Hospital (JHCH) will care for hundreds of children throughout the festive season. This year, JHCH will be running an online toy drive with a local toy store so that anyone can donate a toy to a sick or injured child in their care this festive season! If you’d like to help brighten someone’s day who can’t make it home for Christmas you can do so by purchasing toys on the Simply Giving website or calling 4921 4492. Help them reach their goal of 200 toys worth $5,000.

Order t-shirts from Borne Clothing

Borne is a social enterprise founded in Newy on a mission to get rid of mozzie bites, as well as the diseases they carry! They create ethically sourced and sustainably made clothing that is mosquito-repellent. They make great Christmas presents for outdoor fun-loving families! The secret is an active ingredient that is skin-safe, non-toxic, odourless, and actually not-so-secret at all – you can read all about it on their website. The best part? The treatment doesn’t wash off, meaning that you can keep your family mozzie-free for as long as you keep the clothing! As well as protecting your kids, 50% of the profit from every shirt sold helps protect children across the world from malaria – a deadly disease that takes the life of one child every two minutes.

Donate a hamper to Soul Café 2021 Christmas Appeal

Soul Café helps to support some of Newcastle’s most vulnerable people. They offer numerous services to help the homeless and disadvantaged people within our community. This holiday season, you can assist Soul Café in two ways.

You can donate to the Soul Café. They estimate that they will have provided 50,000+ meals to vulnerable people in Newcastle and that is only possible because of the generous financial support of the Newcastle community. They rely on community funding, not government funding and a donation of $2 or more is tax deductible.

You can also create a Soul Café Hamper of Hope. Download the Soul Café Hamper of Hope shopping list here and buy the items on the shopping list. Items include cans of food, toiletries and wrapped lollies. Put them in a reusable shopping bag and drop them into Soul Café before December 16 and they will give them out to their vulnerable guests through the Christmas holiday period. Hampers can be delivered to Soul Café from Monday to Thursday between 8am and 2:30pm or ring to arrange an alternative time by December 16.

Donate goods to Newcastle Libraries Christmas Gift Appeal

With such a lot of hardship in our community, Newcastle Libraries is giving something back this Christmas and they would like your help. They are looking for donations of non-perishable food, toiletries and other items to help three local charities – Got Your Back Sista, Oz Harvest and Baptist Care. And to reward you, if you have any historical unpaid overdue fines or fees associated with lost/damaged items (prior to 2016) they will waive $5 for each item donated. All items collected under Newcastle Libraries Christmas giving appeal will be donated to the three local emergency relief agencies, who will package up the goods for needy families in the lead-up to the festive season. The Christmas Giving Appeal runs from Monday 29 November until Friday 17 December and you can donate items at your local Newcastle Libraries branch.

Buy a wish card from The Salvation Army

Buy a Wish gift card from the Salvation Army this Christmas. You can choose from a range of ideas to help those less fortunate. Through your monetary donation, the Salvation Army can provide assistance to vulnerable people in our community. 

This includes:

  • A baby hamper for a new mum
  • A family day out for a struggling family
  • Christmas lunch hamper for a family
  • Escape kit for a mother and child
  • Street pack for a homeless person

Volunteer for Christmas Day Lunch in the Park with The Samaritans

No plans for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Why not be a volunteer for Samaritans for a community Christmas Lunch. To keep volunteers and the community safe, this year the Newcastle Christmas lunch will be a little different. Samaritans are offering families a festive picnic lunch on Christmas Day. Locals will enjoy lunch with their loved ones on their very own picnic rug, with gifts and games.

Provide a toy or book for The Smith Family

This Christmas, there are kids who may not receive a Christmas gift but you can make sure they receive a gift. This year, in light of the ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic around the country, The Smith Family have made the difficult decision to not proceed with the Toy and Book Appeal in its usual format. While this wasn’t an easy decision, it was to ensure the safety of students and families, team members and volunteers.

However, they are absolutely committed to ensuring that the children we support still receive a gift this Christmas. A digital gift voucher will be provided to every child who would ordinarily receive a gift pack so that families can ensure their children can participate in the joys of Christmas.  You can still fundraise at work, a club, school or in your community group for the Toy and Book Appeal.

Organise food hampers for OzHarvest

There are many families who need food from charity agencies. This Christmas, offices, schools, community groups or places of worship can help meet this need by running a food drive to collect non-perishable food items to be donated to OzHarvest. Recommended items for hampers include non-perishable food items only and within use-by date including: pasta, rice, whole grain cereal, canned fruit and veg, tuna, salmon, chicken, beef stews (ring pull), long life milk products, breakfast cereals, tea/coffee, and biscuits (sweet and savoury). Email OzHarvest to contact them to collect the food.

Recycle cans and bottles in exchange for a donation

You can make a donation to a charity through the NSW Return and Earn container deposit scheme. The scheme gives people 10c for every glass, plastic and aluminium drinking container returned.

The reverse vending machine has options to donate to not-for-profit and community organisations such as charities, sports clubs and schools. The recipients are rotated every three months.

Donate food to a community pantry

Take what you need. Leave what you can. This is the motto of Free Community Pantries. This Christmas, provide supplies to people who need it the most and fill up a community pantry. Items needed: tinned food with ring pull, pasta, rice, baby food, no-prep meals, toiletries, sanitary items, etc.⁠⁠⁠⁠ There are community pantries located at Newcastle CBD (Christ Church Cathedral), Hamilton, (Awaba Park near Hamilton Station), Merewether (Outside Blue Door Cafe), Stockton (at the BBQ shelter adjacent to Lexies) and Tilligerry Peninsula (next to Uniting Church).

Volunteer at a community garden

Community gardens exist to produce local seasonal produce and create a sense of community. Get your kids involved in your local community garden. They’re a great way to learn how things grow and to meet your neighbours through working bees. There’s a number of community gardens in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie in which to get involved.

Help someone in your neighbourhood

You don’t have to go far to give back. See if you can help a family member or neighbour. Do you have an elderly neighbour who needs their lawns mowed, some help with groceries or a home-cooked meal? You can get your kids involved and demonstrate to them how you can help.

Do you have other tips to give back this holiday season? Email us.

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