On my drive to work every morning, I pass by a homeless man sitting on the steps of an inner city building. He may well be in his forties, is dreadlocked, bearded and looks as though he could use a long, hot shower and fresh change of clothes. He smiles and gazes at the cars as they whizz past and appears content enough, perched there on 'his' steps, but then who really knows. I cannot help but wonder about his background, how he came to be living on the streets and whether he has any family and where they might be. On frosty mornings and especially when we've had severe storms, I hope in my heart of hearts that he has had a warm bed for the night.
As many of us busily prepare for the festive season, planning the food we will prepare for our loved ones and gifts we will buy, we are reminded that there are others who are experiencing hardship. The St Vincent de Paul Society highlights how easily any of us can come upon hard times ('There but for the grace of God go I... ') and the difference that it can make if 'Vinnies' intervenes before things spiral out of control.
The theme for the 2011 St Vincent de Paul Society's Christmas Appeal is 'How will you spend Christmas?', reminding Australians of the $798 million of unwanted gifts given each year at Christmas! This year, Aussies will spend a staggering $39.8 billion at Christmas, that's $860 million for every day in December. All this, while four out of five Australians say they wouldn't mind a donation to charity instead of a gift.
Graham West, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW says that Vinnies continues to see increased demand for its services year round, but demand escalates at Christmas as families already struggling to make ends meet turn to Vinnies for some much needed help. 'The people who come to us at Christmas aren't looking for lavish gifts and trappings, but for simple things like a decent meal, or any kind of gift for their child. Sadly, many simply need help with the basics, such as keeping a roof over their head, the power on, and food in the cupboard', Mr West advised.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is aiming to raise around $1.3 million dollars in NSW through its Christmas Appeal. Vinnies is asking Australians to go back to basics and find the true spirit of Christmas. Together we can try and make sure that all Australians have some joy and dignity at this time of the year.
To make a donation to the Vinnies Christmas Apeal, visit www.vinnies.org.au or phone 131812. You can also donate at any Vinnies Centre or through your local Parish.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.