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    THE GIFT OF GIVING: From left, Uniting Wimmera chief executive Josh Koenig collects gifts from a Toyworld Horsham drop-off point for the service’s annual Christmas appeal. Toyworld’s Nicole Schmidt, Kerryn Golder and owner Trish Munro give him a helping hand. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Uniting drives Christmas appeal

Uniting Wimmera is encouraging residents to give back this festive season as the number of people seeking access to services because of financial stress, violence or drug and alcohol abuse rises.

The not-for-profit community organisation has launched its annual Christmas appeal.

The campaign works in partnership with the Salvation Army and the Christian Emergency Food Centre to distribute gifts, vouchers and food to Wimmera families in crisis.

Uniting Wimmera chief executive Josh Koenig said while this harvest season appeared okay for the region’s farming communities, previous poor harvests were still affecting the economy and job opportunities. 

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He said many people were also troubled with dropping wages and rising costs of rent.

“Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time of year. But for many people it can be the most difficult time of all,” he said.

“We are seeing a rise in people who are experiencing financial stress, poor mental health, family violence and alcohol and other drug issues coming to our services for help.”

Mr Koenig said Uniting Wimmera provided $169,729 worth of crisis and housing support in the 2018-2019 financial year, compared with $135,615 the previous year.

He said many people were struggling to buy food or pay their rent or bills on time, which made buying gifts for children at Christmas ‘even less of a priority’ for people.

Because of this, Mr Koenig said it was an important time for Wimmera residents who could, to support the region’s struggling families and make Christmas ‘that little bit more special’ through Uniting’s Christmas appeals.

“We have partnerships with multiple organisations, including Toyworld, and we’ll help families get presents under the tree,” he said.

Mr Koenig said Uniting was also part of the Target Christmas Appeal and was collecting food through its Food for Families campaign, aiming to gather more than 70 tonnes of food to keep families fed throughout 2020.

He said people could donate gifts, vouchers or food at Uniting’s office on Baillie Street in Horsham, as well as at drop-off points including Anytime Fitness, Target Horsham, Horsham’s Bank of Melbourne, Woodbine Warracknabeal, Country Essentials Warracknabeal and headspace Horsham. 

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire October 30, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!