16 November 2023

Councils ask residents to help spread some Christmas joy to struggling families

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A Christmas tree in Wollongong Mall.

The Christmas tree in Wollongong Mall. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Illawarra residents are being asked to think of others this Christmas and support their local council’s giving tree appeals.

The three Illawarra councils – Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama – have launched their individual appeals for donations of children’s gifts or gift cards and vouchers.

In Wollongong, council is seeking donations of gifts for children aged up to 16. Gifts will be donated to Anglicare and the St Vincent de Paul Society to distribute to families in need.

Unwrapped gifts can be left at Wollongong Central, Corrimal Village, Dapto Mall, Warrawong Plaza, South Coast Floor Coverings and council’s libraries in Wollongong, Corrimal, Dapto, Helensburgh, Unanderra, Warrawong and Thirroul.

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Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said there were many people in the city who were struggling to make ends meet.

“Little extras, like Christmas gifts, can be the first thing to drop off the priority list for families who are doing it tough. We’re calling for people to make a donation to the Giving Tree and spread a little Christmas magic, a time of goodwill,” Cr Bradbery said.

“While the Giving Tree appeal is a small donation, it’s one that can lift spirits and help families celebrate together.

“If you’re not sure what to get, another option is to donate a gift card instead. That can actually be a really great option as it allows parents or carers to pick out the perfect gift themselves for their family.”

Donations will be accepted until Monday 11 December.

Three people with gifts at a Christmas tree.

Mayor Neil Reilly with staff members Kylie and Jackie at the giving tree at the Pavilion. Photo: Kiama Council.

The Kiama Mayor’s Giving Tree Appeal seeks donations of gifts for children aged up to 14 years.

Unwrapped gifts can be left at the giving trees in council’s administration building in Manning Street, as well as at Kiama Library, Gerringong Library and Museum and The Pavilion.

The Appeal is open until Thursday 7 December.

Group of people in front of a Christmas tree.

Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer, partner Vikki Muller are joined by councillors at the city’s Giving Tree. Photo: Shellharbour City Council.

In Shellharbour, the Mayoress’ Giving Tree has operated for more than 20 years to lend a hand to help hundreds of disadvantaged families celebrate Christmas.

Vikki Muller, partner of Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer, said many families have been experiencing added financial pressures this year due to the rise in the cost of living.

“People are struggling to pay rent, buy groceries and fill up their car up with petrol,” Ms Muller said.

“For some, it just won’t be possible to buy gifts and food this festive season. It is heartbreaking.”

Unwrapped gifts can be left before Friday 8 December in the box next to the Christmas tree in the Shellharbour Civic Centre foyer.

The St Vincent de Paul Society will distribute the gifts to families in need.

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