A tree full of wishes for Tamworth needy

CHRISTMAS is a time for family and, for many, plenty of gifts, but for others it can be a time of sadness and missing out with very little to celebrate.

The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal is helping families who aren’t doing too well and making Christmas a bit brighter through the Salvation Army.

The appeal was launched yesterday at the Tamworth Kmart store with Westdale Public School offering musical entertainment.

They performed a variation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Once a Jolly Koala (a parody of Waltzing Matilda) and enjoyed their chance to sing for the public supporting the appeal.

Kmart Tamworth customer service manager Jenny Cross said Westdale had a fundraiser last year and then bought gifts, which they donated to the Wishing Tree.

“The highlight for me is seeing so many people give,” she said.

“I do this every year and love it. It is part of the highlights of my year.”

The appeal is celebrating its silver anniversary with 25 years of helping the Salvation Army assist those in need during what can be a lonely and sad time for many.

“The Tamworth community supports it well, although we were down on presents last year, which puts more pressure on the Salvation Army,” Mrs Cross said.

“I think last year was a hard time for everybody, though.”

People arrived with gifts at the appeal launch, so organisers are hoping they will continue to flow in to make it a merry Christmas for everybody.

“Last year we fell short of presents for teenage girls and boys and they’re the ones who seem to miss out all the time, so gifts for them would be appreciated,” Mrs Cross said.

“We would like to get to 2000 gifts because we were short last year and that would bring us up to what we would need for this area, I believe. Anything we raise in our stores stays local.”

Salvation Army Family Store manager David Lodge said it had a growing number of people needing assistance, with numbers of about 160 children to assist at the moment and 100 adults to help out with hampers, but this number was growing all the time.

“We could get more,” he said.

“The need is greater this year than any other year and we can only judge numbers by the people coming into welfare at the moment. A lot of people are struggling because everything’s going up – power bills, rent and petrol. We get a lot of people in tears who don’t know what to do next.”

To donate, select the age group that you wish to purchase for, mark it on the gift tag and place it under the tree with your gift – wrapped or unwrapped. The items do not have to be purchased from Kmart.

“This is not a commercial venture for us,” Mrs Cross said.

Donations can be made up until Christmas Eve when the Salvation Army will collect the gifts for distribution.

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