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21 Dec, 2023
Central to the message of Christmas is that act of giving to others. The story of Jesus’ birth, God’s gift to humankind, has compelled many over centuries to give gifts to others: we give gifts to our children, loved ones, teachers, co-workers and friends and delight in the joy of opening something thoughtfully given. It’s a wonderful time to show our love and gratitude through this tradition.
And yet, while it is a wonderful time of year, it can also be held in tension with weariness, the pain of loss and grief, of financial stress, the struggle to put food on the table or buy gifts for children and loneliness.
Thinking of others who are vulnerable, lonely or facing immense difficulty is critical at this time. Which is why Fresh Hope Communities Retirement Communities have made this act of giving central to their Christmas season.
THE RESIDENCES: ROTARY LIFELINE Christmas Hamper Appeal
The Residences Castle Cove have rallied in support of the Rotary Lifeline Christmas Hamper Appeal.
Through Rotary Roseville Chatswood, Lifeline asked if donations could be made for the Christmas hamper appeal for items to assist the many local families in need.
Despite a very short lead time the residents jumped into action and we were overwhelmed by their donations of goods ranging from non-perishable items such as tinned fruit, meat and vegetables to biscuits, assorted sweets and of course, Christmas cakes.
During the last year, Lifeline has seen as significant increase in the number of individuals and families unable to buy food items, pay bills and at risk of homelessness.
Patrick O’Neill said, “On collection the representatives from Rotary and Lifeline were amazed at the generosity of The Residences Castle Cove. Bruce Carfrae who is a resident at The Residences was very proud to present the donation on behalf of our community.”
GREEN HILLS: Gifts to Living Hope Churches of Christ
Green Hills Retirement Community has been donating food and gifts to Living Hope Churches of Christ for the past three years.
With the cost of living increasing every week and the festive season in full swing, it has been heartening to see the donation box in the community hall grow every morning. Donations of these goods were presented to the Pastor, Steve Martin.
The residents’ kindness is commendable, especially knowing that they too may be struggling and yet it is rewarding for them to know that they have positively impacted another person’s life.
Trish Grainger said, “I am proud of all the residents and grateful for their generosity.”
PENDLE HILL RETIREMENT COMMUNITY: Pathways Communities Donations to Victims of DFV
Over the years, Pendle Hill Retirement Community, have linked in with Lynn from Pathways Communities at Christmas. Residents and staff provide gifts via gift tags. In November, Lynn provided the gift tags for age-appropriate gifts, to allow plenty of time for the Residents and staff to shop.
Gifts to date have predominantly been for the children but this year they requested tags for mums as well. Ages for the children range from babies right through to 14 years of age.
As we have seen in many communities this year, the cost-of-living expenses are biting hard and there are more and more families needing assistance in many forms, not just with Christmas gifts.
Donna Gauci shared, “We are so proud of the Residents and our staff for their generosity and kindness, when almost everyone is struggling in one way or another. It’s beautiful to see that the Christmas Spirit of giving, sharing and kindness is alive and well even in these tough financial times, and we are very happy to help in this small way.”
Pathways provides numerous services, some of which include: playgroup, a variety of counselling services, women’s shelters, food bank, clothing and household items and other support services.
The gifts provided by the Residents will go to victims of Domestic and Family Violence who are staying in shelters, as well as families in the community in need.
All donated gifts are unwrapped and checked by the families’ case managers to ensure they are appropriate for them to receive and then re-wrapped for distribution to the families.
FORESTIVILLE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY: Toys ‘n’ Tucker drive
A collection for Anglicare’s Toys “n” Tucker drive was held at Forestville Retirement Community this year. Toys ‘n’ Tucker is a wonderful way to share the joy of Christmas with people in need. Residents were able to purchase non-perishable food or toy gifts to contribute to the collection. Residents contributed gifts to fill and pack 15 boxes!
Penny McIntyre said, “For a community of only 31 residents, it was a huge collection and I know they felt the message ‘Share the Joy’.”
HENLEY BRAE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY: Hamming it up
Henley Brae Retirement Community purchased eight half hams for Mothers Union at St Stephens Church in Mittagong. These are given to vulnerable families in the area during Christmas.
“We support the Church Pantry in Bowral each week with food donations that are picked up from us. In addition to this, at Christmas we also purchase three whole hams for them. These are used at the Christmas lunch they put on for all the locals struggling over the festive season,” explained Kate Shying.
Their generosity doesn’t stop there. Residents also contribute to the Salvation Army’s Giving Tree. Gifts are placed unwrapped under the Christmas Tree and picked up for wrapping and distribution by the Salvos.
The other gift on display here—generosity.
The generosity of Residents and staff in our retirement communities during this Christmas season underscores their desire to place dignity, value and worth on those doing it tough and gives residents the opportunity to connect with and contribute to the welfare and wellbeing of others in the local community.
Belinda Edwards, General Manager of Retirement Living agrees. “Our Residents are very much aware of what’s going on in their local community and are sensitive to the needs there. Whether they are in a position to contribute a little or a lot, every gift matters and as an organisation, these acts of giving play into our values of kindness and connection. We’re thankful for each of our Residents and their compassion towards others in this Christmas season.”