OVER 2200 meals and hundreds of toys have been donated through two separate charity drives at Mount Gambier Marketplace in recent weeks, with the goods distributed to vulnerable Limestone Coast residents ahead of Christmas.
Regional Foodbank Mount Gambier has received more than 1.1 tonnes of food through its annual collection at the shopping centre, bulking up its stock in what is the organisation’s peak demand period.
Shoppers have also generously filled a gift collection box positioned outside Big W with donation recipient ac.care distributing 236 toys and eight $25 gift cards to vulnerable families and children yesterday.
ac.care chief executive Shane Maddocks said organisations such as ac.care relied on the support of the community to increase their impact.
“The year 2020 has been uniquely challenging with the impact of COVID-19 on top of the pressures already faced by vulnerable families and individuals,” Mr Maddocks said.
“Sadly, as we near the festive season and the end of the year, we are seeing an increasing number of people in need of support to avoid or move past a crisis.
“Some of these people have lost employment or income as a result of COVID-19 and our services are seeing an influx of people at risk of homelessness due to a range of factors.
“Distribution of toys and hampers at Christmas time can provide some dignity and hope to people struggling to cope at this time of year, especially parents under the pressure of having to choose
between paying essential bills or providing gifts for their children.
“We hear many touching stories at this time of year from clients and are forever grateful for the community’s generous support to help us bring some relief and hopefully joy to people who need it most at this time of year.”
Regional Foodbank Mount Gambier branch manager Lynne Neshoda said the demand for food had increased due to COVID-19, praising ambassador Vince Versace, Marketplace management and collection volunteers from both Hallmont Estate and Woodlands Grove.
“Christmas is a peak time of year for Foodbank, working around the clock to distribute hundreds of kilos of food and Christmas hampers to those in need throughout the Limestone Coast,” Ms Neshoda said.
“We could not have done it without your help.”