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Christmas appeal

WITH the festive season fast approaching charity groups are launching their annual Christmas appeals amid concern demand will again outstrip supply as more families dealing with unemployment and increasing costs of living call for help.

St Vincent de Paul Christmas Appeal Greenmount chapter coordinator Berndadette Waugh said the society’s annual Christmas appeal helped more than 60 families in need.

“It has got tougher,” she said.

“There is definitely an increase in demand for assistance and help as hard economic times impact on families and individuals.”

Mrs Waugh said without the help of local churches and primary schools, such as Glen Forrest, St Anthony’s and Sacred Heart, they would not have been able to meet the demand.

“We help families across the Mundaring shire as well as Swan residents in Koongamia, Bellevue, Midvale and Stratton,” she said.

“Last year 62 families in need received hampers and more than 440 presents were given out to children ranging from babies to 16-year-olds.

“While we would love to be able to help more we are probably at our limit with the resources we have available.”

Meanwhile church groups in the Kalamunda shire who pack and deliver parcels to hundreds of needy residents over Christmas are predicting the need for help will increase again this year, at a time when charities were struggling with declining Christmas donations.

Sharing a Hills Christmas coordinator Peggy Mews said in 2015 more than 1000 people in the Shire of Kalamunda received food parcels and gifts.

“For many people, this is the only gift they receive,” she said.

“This program involving churches, schools and local businesses, is a wonderful example of a community working together to help those who are having a difficult time.”

Meanwhile the Smith Family’s WA General Manager Lorna Woodley said its annual Toy and Book Appeal aimed to support 97 families and 226 children in the Swan, Mundaring and Midland region this December.

“It’s important to remember that many are doing it tough throughout the year, not just at Christmas time,” she said.

“Year round we focus on supporting students with their education through our Learning for Life sponsorship program.

“But supporting education is about more than just what happens in the classroom.

“It’s also about enabling positive experiences in the home and community which allow young people to feel included and that’s why we distribute toys and books at Christmas time.”

Mrs Woodley said growing up in poverty often meant being isolated and going without all year round, but it was particularly hard for children at this time of year.

“Sadly, thousands of kids won’t receive a gift this Christmas simply because their families can’t afford it,” she said.

“But by sharing your Christmas giving and donating to our Toy andBook Appeal, you can help bring a smile to a disadvantaged child’s face on Christmas morning.”

New research released last month by the WA Council of Social Services showed high rates of unemployment and underemployment, and the increasing casualisation of the workforce was placing increasing pressure on low-income households.

WACOSS Chief Executive Officer Irina Cattalini said the Cost of Living Report 2016 showed a working family had around $130 a week spare after basic living costs.

“For an unemployed single, they aren’t even able to cover the costs for what we would consider a reasonable standard of living, coming up over $30 short each week,” she said.

The public can help the Sharing a Hills Christmas initiative with donations of food, gifts, or time to help sort, pack and delivering the parcels. Donations can be left at the Kalamunda Church of Christ at 20 Mileti Rd, Lesmurdie Tuesdays to Fridays from 9am to 3pm or on Sunday mornings.

By Sarah Brookes

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