While families across Melbourne come together to celebrate, smile and enjoy each other’s company this Christmas, we mustn’t forget those who are struggling at this time of the year.
Berwick Church of Christ held a special Christmas drive, called Bringing Christmas to Life on Saturday, 1 December.
“Many people within our community dread Christmas as they are unable to provide their children with a present or a special meal on Christmas day,” Berwick Church of Christ pastor Charmaine Vis said.
“While this was true in 2012, when Bringing Christmas to Life was born, the challenges of life and the cost of living have not abated; therefore, we remain committed to helping these people at Christmas.
“Now in its seventh year, Bringing Christmas to Life made a positive difference in the lives of 70 families.” Berwick Church of Christ aim is to reach these individuals and offer them support at the beginning of December to take some of the stress out of the preparations for Christmas and create an event that provides celebration and companionship.
Bringing Christmas to Life is supported by over sixty passionate volunteers who generously donate their time, energy and expertise in the lead up to and on the day.
Families attending are able to enjoy a Christmas BBQ together with the volunteers from the church.
“We hope to give dignity to parents and individuals, and create special memories for the children as we share a beautiful Christmas lunch,” Ms Vis said.
“Parents can choose gifts for their children, and children were able to play on jumping castles, have their face painted, create balloon animals or capture the moment in the photo booth.”
At the end of the day each family or individual was given a hamper; a ham and a roast to take home and enjoy on Christmas day.
One parent said, “I’ve got to spend time with my family without stress and anxiety.
“We’ve had a lovely meal, and my kids will have a much better Christmas as they’ll get a present.”
Another guest said, “Today has meant the world to me, seeing the joy on my boys faces when they walked into the hall, their little faces lit up saying, ‘look mum it’s a party inside’.
“They are going to love their presents so thank you all so much.”
Others have expressed how nice it is just to share a meal with other people as they spend so much time alone.
Bringing Christmas to Life is organised by the members of the Food Pantry Team which operates throughout the year for people who are experiencing tough times.
“Our clients may have found themselves utilising our service due to domestic violence; marriage breakup; loss of employment; homelessness and other negative situations impacting their circumstances,” Ms Vis said.