By Jamie Salter
Windermere Child and Family Services is calling for online donations for its annual Merry Mission Christmas fundraiser, to help thousands of Victorians who need it most this year.
The Narre Warren community service organisation has been running its Merry Mission appeal for more than 11 years, providing 11,065 gifts and 4,560 hampers to families across South East Victoria.
The appeal supports struggling families including those who may be experiencing homelessness or family violence.
One Victorian family who were supported last year was Shaneen and her daughter Phoebe, a talented para-equestrian rider.
“Last year Windermere gave us a big Christmas hamper, we had nothing at the time,” Shaneen said.
“I actually cried when I received it because I’d run out of money and I didn’t know how I would get through Christmas.
“I rang Windermere in desperation and they looked after us.”
Sheneen said the donation meant more than a physical gift – it was proof that someone cared.
“Receiving it was lovely especially during Covid-19, but it also showed that we weren’t just forgotten,” Shaneen said.
“It’s not just me, there’s thousands of people out there that need help and it makes a huge difference.”
Donations for this year’s Merry Mission appeal will all be made in the form of online gift vouchers to ensure recipients are able to safely purchase items during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The online event gives recipients the opportunity to select Christmas gifts they need.
Windermere chief executive director Lynette Buoy said the service wanted to make sure no members of the community miss out this Christmas.
“People can help us to ensure our appeal can provide Christmas hampers for those who need it by making a donation,” she said.
“The pandemic has made hard situations even harder for those doing it tough in our communities and giving to Merry Mission is something easy we can do to help others, and in turn make ourselves feel good.
“Just five minutes of your time online can make a huge difference to the life of someone who needs it most right now.”
Windermere has been working in southeast Victoria to help people in need for more than 150 years.
To make a donation, visit windermere.org.au/merrymission