Spirit of Christmas Giving Tree eases stress on families in need

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There are still a few to go so the call has gone out to generous people in Balclutha who have only a day or two left to take part in the Balclutha Round Table’s Spirit of Christmas Giving Tree.

Regardless of circumstances, there are families in need in Clutha and for many, Christmas is a very stressful time.

Societal demands often cause parents to make the wrong choices between spending what little money they have on gifts rather than food or important bills.

To help alleviate this stress, four organisations have again come together to organise the Balclutha Round Tables Spirit of Christmas Giving Tree.

Located in the foyer of the Balclutha branch of the Westpac Bank is a large Christmas tree adorned with 54 cards detailing the gender and age of recipients.

People are invited to take a card and buy a gift to match the recipient, then by December 7 return the card and gift to the tree, where it will begin its journey to lighten up a child’s day and hopefully ease the stress on grateful parents.

The project, which is in its fifth year, is a partnership between the Balclutha branches of Round Table, Westpac, the Warehouse and the Salvation Army.

Salvation Army mission director Kaye Bell said last year they catered for 65 recipients and although it is good that the number is down to 54 this year, there are still many needy people in the district.

“There are families and people here who look forward with anticipation to the giving tree appeal,” she said.

“We help firstly by identifying those recipients in need of assistance at this time, then after December 7 we collect up all the presents and cards, check the suitability of the presents and then repack them for distribution.”

“It’s not just beneficiaries in need of assistance, we have identified many people here who need that little bit of a hand to get them through what can be a very difficult time.”

“It can be a very emotional time for recipients and it is awesome to be part of this as it takes stress off families,” she said.

Balclutha Round Table president Craig Broderick said they started the project five years ago after reviewing another branch’s success with a version of it.

“We thought it would be a great success as we knew there were many needy families in our district and we knew it would help relieve the stress on parents at Christmas time,” he said.

Round Table underwrites the project, making up for any shortfall in gifts.

Mr Broderick advises people to carefully read the information sheet attached to the card to help make this appeal a success.

Westpac Balclutha bank manager Mike Curtis and Balclutha Warehouse sales supervisor Donna Hayes both echoed Mr Broderick’s comments about supporting the local communities they live and work in and have combined the Round Table’s giving tree appeal with their own companies’ Christmas giving programmes.