By Melissa Sheil
IF generosity and kindness make up Christmas spirit, then Kalamunda’s Sharing a Hills Christmas charity drive is packed to the rafters with Yuletide festivity.
Hundreds of volunteers flooded to Kalamunda’s Church of Christ last week to help sort, wrap, pack and deliver boxes of food and gifts to those in the City who are less fortunate.
Boxes contained pantry staples like tinned vegetables and pasta, as well as luxury items like Christmas ham, plum pudding and mince pies, and an age-appropriate present for every member of the household.
One of several organisers of the charity drive, Joy Barrett, has been helping with the project since its inception in 1994 when there were only four helpers and 15 parcels to deliver.
“It started out when the Minister’s wife saw that there were a lot of people in our community who couldn’t celebrate Christmas for whatever reason – kids who were missing out on presents because parents couldn’t afford them, older people who didn’t have a family to buy them something,” she said.
“It’s grown in the past 26 years but the spirit is still there.
“This year we couldn’t even keep track of how many people helped, and we sent out 300 boxes for 1000 people.”
Though planning for the drive starts in September, the bulk of the hard work is packed into one busy week just before Christmas.
“Monday, we set up all the trestle tables, Tuesday all the stuff comes in and we start sorting, Wednesday we sort the rest and start wrapping presents, Thursday we start packing and delivering and Friday we deliver the leftovers and have to clean up our mess,” said Ms Barrett.
“Thursday is my favourite as you can see the huge lines of boxes with presents and bon bons on top which is very satisfying.
“Delivering the parcels is also a wonderful job because most people are very touched.
“I’ve definitely shed a tear when the kids come rushing over to get to the presents or a person living by themselves tells me this is the only gift they will get this year.
“One year, we needed a gift for a blind boy and someone donated this beautiful handmade rocking horse, with bells and wool he could feel.
“It was a moment of serendipity because we’ve never had anything that big donated before and it came when we needed it most.”
Donated items are collected through community appeals at local organisations and businesses.
“The generosity of the Kalamunda community is astounding, and we are so grateful for people donating what they can, be it food, money, toys or their time,” Ms Barrett said.