Community unites to spread Christmas cheer

CHRISTMAS CHEER: St Vincent de Paul representative John D’Souza, Families SA’s Suzanne Roberts, Uniting Care’s Laura Kilsby, Mayor Andrew Lee,’s Trish Spark, Lifeline’s Bronwyn Martin and The Salvation Army’s Ria Wehrmann launch the annual Mount Gambier Mayor’s Christmas Appeal. Picture: BRITTANY DENTON

BUSINESSES, community groups, families and individuals are encouraged to consider those less fortunate this festive season and donate to the 2017 Mount Gambier Community Mayor’s Christmas Appeal, with a fundraising target of $28,000 set.

Mayor Andrew Lee officially launched the 2017 appeal at Mount Gambier City Hall last Thursday night in the presence of representatives of Uniting Care,, Lifeline SE, St Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army, which jointly distribute all donations through the Christmas Cheer program.

Elected members, local businesses, service clubs, community groups, families and individuals were in attendance to support the initiative, which provides a united and direct local response to help meet the needs of the community each year.

“The appeal provides much-needed support for a range of less fortunate, vulnerable or isolated members of the local community at Christmas,” Mr Lee said.

“Last year, the appeal directly assisted 584 families, 691 adults, 251 teenagers and 533 children with Christmas food hampers, vouchers or gifts.”

All funds raised as part of the appeal are distributed locally, with demand for support greater than ever as the cost of living continues to rise.

“Sadly the number of people requiring assistance at Christmas has increased by almost 20pc during the past five years, reiterating challenges faced by many people within our community,” Mr Lee said.

To start the donation process, the Mount Gambier Men’s Shed presented 100 hand-made children’s toys as its contribution towards the 2017 appeal.

“Seven members have spent about 40 hours over the past three months crafting and painting push and pull along trolleys, along with toy blocks, sewing machines, hand irons, birds on a stick and model airplanes using donated timber and paint,” Men’s Shed publicity officer Peter Heness said.

“We are happy to be associated with this initiative and to be able to give something back to the community after all the support they have given us.

“To be able to put a smile on a kid’s face on Christmas day – that’s what it’s all about.”

Mount Gambier Central received an outstanding contribution award at the launch in recognition of its support for the appeal during the past eight years.

“Mount Gambier Central appreciates the acknowledgement and we are very proud to partner with the mayor to support local families,” Mount Gambier Central manager Jane Read said.

Donations to the appeal can be made online at, in person at the Mount Gambier Civic Centre or by cheque marked “Combined Christmas Appeals Committee” to PO Box 56, Mount Gambier SA,