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Serve on Christmas Day – it’s a great thing to do!

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY – CHRISTMAS DAY

Last year I volunteered my time to help the Gethsemane Community in Petersham with their Christmas lunch service. I took 3 massive salads – and help carers and volunteers serve up to 60 people with mental illness – their Christmas lunch.

Sr Myree Harris has invited me back again this year – because she likes my salads :-) and also asked if I knew of others who would like to help.

WHO WANTS TO JOIN ME? 9-2pm Christmas Day serving at the Gethsemane Community in Petersham.

THE CHRISTMAS PROJECT DOCUMENTARY

THE CHRISTMAS PROJECT from Sirin Productions on Vimeo.

Here is the documentary that was made last year about this great Christmas event. This short documentary is about a determined nun and a reformed criminal who work together to bring happiness to some of Sydney’s loneliest people at Christmas.

I make an appearance in the Doco at 13:13 and onward……

More about the Christmas Project ( this has been taken directly from the Gethsemane website)

People with disabilities living in licensed boarding houses are very poor. Most of their Disability Pension goes on rent and board. Often, they cannot afford the most basic items, such as underwear, socks and toiletries. They are also socially isolated and many never receive personal mail.

At Christmas, Gethsemane Community organizes a major project to provide personalized gifts for 875 people in 7 boarding houses, 25 aged care facilities to which boarding house people have gone, 14 group homes, 2 interim supported facilities and to 26 people living independently with support. These gift parcels consist of a complete range of toiletries, two pairs of socks and lollies. Boarding house residents also receive two pairs of underpants. Women also receive a cosmetic bag with moisturiser and make up.

When we make contact with a new aged care facility, we ask for the names of any residents who have no family or friends and add them to the list. We also provide individual festive food hampers and gifts to about 50 clients of the Mobile Assertive Treatment team at Camperdown which case manages people with complex mental illness who usually live in rented rooms. In 2011, such hampers and gifts were also provided for 60 clients of the Rawson Project at Marrickville.

Christmas Cards

There is also a process that enables interested people to send Christmas cards to those who are socially isolated. 875 people on our data base for cards and presents received about 12 cards each, through a two stage process that respects privacy. Their names with a Gethsemane Post Box address are distributed to a wide range of supportive individuals and groups who buy Christmas cards, write personal messages and post these to the given address. Another group of volunteers collect the mail each day, readdress each card and forward to the correct address for each person so that they receive personal Christmas greetings. In many cases this is the only mail they ever receive and the cards are placed on the wall near their beds; their only private space which reflects their importance to the individual.

Christmas Hampers

Hampers of festive food are delivered to 7 boarding houses. One supporter, uses funds donated by his clients to buy and deliver hams to each boarding house.There is open house at Gethsemane Community for lunch on Christmas day.

About 54 people came for lunch and presents on Christmas Day 2011, including 10 clients of the MAT team and residents of 8 group homes.This is a traditional Christmas lunch and some groups have regularly donated the ham or money or their time to assist in setting this up in the carport and yard of Gethsemane. The Community and any who have been connected to Gethsemane and others who would normally not feel able to mix with others can come to this place where they are accepted and can feel as much at home as they wish. Each receives a present and is able to share in a Christmas meal and those who are living alone are giving a little hamper to take home to help them through these holidays when their usual sources are often closed down.

CAN YOU CONTRIBUTE?

We also give guests gift bags and often run out of good gifts for men, especially. Things like aftershave, gift packs, combs, nail clippers, towels would be useful. Also, women’s gift packs or small bottles of perfume and manicure kits, combs, brushes, towels would be useful. Tea towels also, as these people live alone.

We pack hampers for people living alone to take back. For these we need tins of ham, small jars of mustard pickles, tins of salmon, individual cakes and puddings, small long life cream.

We need to pack the gift bags the week before Christmas. We put in the gift bags toiletries, gifts and lollies.

For Christmas Day we need salads, soft drink, light beer, nibbles.

If you – or your communities or schools can assist with any of these things – I’d be grateful if you could pass it on. Please do contact me if you can help!

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