HUNDREDS of toys were delivered to children in the Limestone Coast and Murraylands who may not have otherwise received Christmas gifts thanks to a charity drives at the Mount Gambier and Murray Bridge Marketplace shopping centres.
Shoppers filled a gift collection box outside Mount Gambier Big W with more than 230 toys for ac.care to distribute to vulnerable families and children.
The shopping centre management also donated eight $25 gift cards to boost the campaign.
Gifts were distributed to vulnerable families through ac.care’s Mount Gambier Community Centre, which includes the Limestone Coast Homelessness Service.
Meanwhile, shoppers at the Murray Bridge Marketplace also contributed to their region’s combined agencies Christmas appeal, with toys distributed to registered families by ac.care in partnership with The Salvation Army and Vinnies.
ac.care chief executive Shane Maddocks said organisations such as ac.care relied on the support of the community to increase their impact, particularly as demand increased over the Christmas period.
“The year 2020 was uniquely challenging with the impact of COVID-19 on top of the pressures already faced by vulnerable families and individuals,” Mr Maddocks said.
“Sadly, around the festive season and the end of the year, we see an increasing number of people in need of support to avoid or move past a crisis.
“Some of these people have lost employment or income as a result of COVID-19 and our services have seen a recent influx of people at risk of homelessness due to a range of factors.
“Distribution of toys and hampers at Christmas time can provide some dignity and hope to people struggling to cope at this time of year, especially parents under the pressure of having to choose between paying essential bills or providing gifts for their children.
“We hear many touching stories at this time of year from clients and are forever grateful for the community’s generous support to help us bring some relief and hopefully joy to people who need it most at this time of year.”
Meanwhile, an annual food drive at the Mount Gambier shopping centre also provided more than 1.1 tonnes of food to Regional Foodbank Mount Gambier thanks to donations from shoppers ahead of the organisation’s peak demand period.
Foodbank supports ac.care’s work to provide food to vulnerable people throughout the year.
ac.care can be contacted on 1300 ACCARE (1300 22 22 73).
CAPTION: Generous Haul: Mount Gambier Marketplace marketing executive Paula Creasey, Woolworths Mount Gambier Marketplace store manager Tony Bueti, Big W customer service assistant Melanie Riley, ac.care marketing and communications manager Jason Wallace and ac.care homelessness client support worker Mellany Ritter stand with the collection bin, which was inundated with donated presents from shoppers.