Salvation given to Coffs families
By LEE McDOUGALL
FAMILIES across Coffs Harbour will awake on Christmas morning to find something under their tree and food on their table ? the Salvation Army will make sure of it.
The number of families on the Coffs Coast requiring help this Christmas has almost doubled, placing enormous strain on the charities who provide the relief.
Major Stephen Metcher said the Salvos had been overwhelmed this year by the number of families who had come forward to apply for Christmas packages.
"Coffs Harbour is a marvellous place and it is growing," Major Metcher said. "So when you have growing affluence, unfortunately you also have growing poverty. As long as this place continues to grow, then our poverty level will continue to increase as well."
Last year the Salvos helped 111 families in Coffs Harbour ? but this year that number has been well and truly overtaken.
Di Walters co-ordinates the Christmas hampers for the Salvation Army with a merry bunch of generous volunteers.
"We have already helped 120 families, plus 25 families in the Adopt a Family program (run by the Coffs Coast Advocate), and we have another 25 families on the waiting list," Ms Walters said.
"We will make it. We will not turn a family away, but we need more toys and hamper items. Coffs Harbour is a generous city, so the items will come."
As Ms Walters is talking to this journalist, one of the volunteers walks up and hands her a piece of paper.
"See what I mean. Four schools have hampers that they would like to donate. Isn't that marvellous," Ms Walters says, with a broad grin.
It's a view supported by Major Metcher.
"We will not leave a single family in the lurch," Major Metcher said.
"The public response has been good.
"It's always good, however the demand this year has been enormous so we just need a little bit more support this year."
The Salvation Army is looking for donations of toys for children aged nine and above as well as perishable items and a few 'nice treats' for the parents.
The Adopt A Family program has also experienced greater demand this year, increasing from 60 families last year to 117 families this year.
Anyone able to assist the Salvation Army is urged to contact Ms Walters on 6650 0928 or 6652 8777. There will be a free barbecue and Christmas carols at the Salvation Army Church, Mastracolas Road, on Wednesday from 6pm. All are welcome. For catering purposes please phone the above numbers if planning to attend.