From recipient to volunteer: Donna’s Christmas story

Posted in News

Donna was a mother in financial trouble. It was Christmas and she didn’t know how she was going to afford to bring any joy to her family. In desperation, she turned to UCare Gawler. This is her story.

“The first time I came to UCare Gawler was more than ten years ago. We are a family of four and our only income is the disability pension. Bills, rent and medication are expensive at the best of times, let alone at Christmas when you are already struggling,” she says.

“I was embarrassed to go in and ask for some help with food. Asking for any help at all was hard. But the staff were really nice! I never would have thought of asking for more than we really needed but they offered us a Christmas hamper in addition to some fresh food and I felt so relieved.”

“When it was time to pick up my hamper I felt really excited. I couldn’t wait to see what was in inside! I was not disappointed. There were presents for my kids and all the food was delicious. It was great to see my cupboards full that Christmas with things I could never afford. I still remember how wonderful the fruit cake and custard tasted that Christmas!”

“It meant so much to me to have those things but also not to worry about making Christmas special with no money. It meant so much that I started volunteering at UCare Gawler. I wanted to give back some of the joy that I received. Now I’m the one saying, ‘Have you put your name down for a Christmas Hamper?’ I get to make sure that everyone who comes in has that joy at Christmas-time.”

UCare Gawler is one of a diverse group of 24 independent community and aged care service organisations, hospital, schools and colleges associated with the Uniting Church SA, which participates in the annual national UnitingCare Australia and Target Christmas Appeal.

Now in its 27th year, the Appeal has helped hundreds of thousands of families across Australia. According to the 2018 Foodbank Hunger Report more than 117,000 (of which over 40,000 are children) have sought food relief in SA in the last year, a doubling in the last four years. Across the country 18% of the population have experienced food insecurity in the last year. Over 6000 people were turned away due to lack of funds.

It is easy to contribute in Target stores across the country by simply purchasing an Appeal bauble for $2, a white Christmas gift box for $3 or giving an unwrapped gift at your local Target store. Volunteers from the UnitingCare Network will collect donations and distribute them to people and families in need.

UCare Gawler Coordinator Sheena Tapping said, “The volunteers here at UCare Gawler are thrilled to play even a small part in such an important community campaign and encourage shoppers to donate as much or as little as they can.”

In 2017, the Appeal raised $700,000 nationwide from over 22,000 donations, helping support over 42,000 Australian families. This year, organisers hope to reach more people who will struggle this Christmas thanks to the generous support from all Australians.

The Target UnitingCare Australia Christmas Appeal runs from 1 November until 24 December 2018.

Help the UnitingCare network in its Christmas Appeal mission to keep people from going hungry or miss out on a gift:  Give families a helping hand this Christmas and donate online or in any Target store.


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