GIFTS OF LOVE
By EMMA CORNFORD
WHEN a young mother near Grafton was presented with a hamper, toys, clothing and other donations as part of The Daily Examiner Adopt a Family Appeal, she and her kids were over the moon.
Not only did it make the family's Christmas easier, she was also touched by the fact that someone she did not know, and who did not know her or her children, was thinking about their family this festive season.
Helen Ellis, from Grafton Care, one of the agencies which took part in the appeal, said the generosity from the people in the Clarence Valley was heartening for families who were going through hard times.
"She was quite overwhelmed that anyone would choose to help her out and sponsor the family," Mrs Ellis said.
As with most years, the generosity in the Clarence Valley was considerable in 2005.
Aside from the donations given to families for the Adopt a Family Appeal, money is still trickling in to the APN Tsunami appeal from groups which started raising money for victims months ago.
More than $1 million was raised nationally during the year for that appeal, and is being distributed by Care Australia.
While some agencies reported a slow start for the 2005 Adopt a Family Appeal, by mid-week all 34 families had been sponsored.
"By this week they had all come out of the woodwork," Salvation Army captain Ed Henderson said.
"We helped out with the bigger financial issues as a church, but people donated everything from linen, clothing, cot sheets and ... it worked out really well. We could help around 135 families which was good."
Christ Church Cathedral Dean Peter Catt said while the response had been good, there had been more requests for help than in previous years.
"The demand was up across the board and we have had a lot of requests for assistance in the last couple of weeks," he said. "But there have been lots of wonderful, generous gifts from people. There has been a significant number of donations from businesses ... (and) lots of individuals. It's a good sign of people really considering others during Christmas."
Lifeline's Margaret Lawrie said all but one of the families advertised by Lifeline had been sponsored by an individual or a family.
"The one group who did it came up to me and said this had been the first year they had been involved, but it had been so much fun they were going to do it again next year, which is great."