Monday, March 4, 2024

Food in demand from charities this Christmas

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While Christmas is a time for excitement, celebration, food and family for many Clarence Valley locals, with the financial crisis continuing to hit the region, for some who are less fortunate than most it can be a time of loneliness and despair.

Charities from both the Lower Clarence and Grafton reported increased demand over past years, especially for food, as families struggle to make ends meet, due to increasing costs for groceries, fuel, and electricity.

Major Mark Williamson of the Salvation Army said this year they teamed up with St Vincent De Paul Grafton to share the load pre-Christmas, with St Vincent De Paul concentrating on supplying Christmas food hampers and the Salvation Army focusing on toys and gifts for children.

“We have certainly seen an increased need for assistance this Christmas across the Clarence Valley, particularly in the Lower Clarence,” he said.

“We have seen people who have never before had to ask for assistance at Christmas, come to us for help.

“A lot of people, even if they are managing to keep their head above water from fortnight to fortnight, there’s not that extra available for something like a Christmas celebration.”

Major Williamson said if it wasn’t for the various charities around the valley helping people out this Christmas, it would just be another ordinary day for some locals.

“Your grocery dollar doesn’t go anywhere near as far as it used to and due to these price increases, we have seen an increase in demand for food over clothing and other items,” he said.

“We’ve been offering assistance in the form of gifts for children…and fortunately, due to some substantial donations, I’ve been able to purchase movie vouchers for teenagers.”

Wellspring Christian Church Yamba senior pastor Gavin Sanders said throughout the year they have seen an increase in people using their Yamba food pantry.

“We give out food hampers from Food Bank to people we have got a relationship with over a period of time,” he said.

“For anyone else who comes into our food pantry or Op-Shop who is in need, we give them vouchers to shop freely within our Op-Shop or food pantry.

“We are seeing 200 people or more per week visiting our Food Pantry.”

Wellspring Christian Church’s Iluka Op-Shop has been freshly renovated, Pastor Sanders said, and it now includes a food pantry twice the size.

“We have expanded our food pantry over at Iluka simply because of the times we are living in with the cost of living increasing,” he said.

“We have expanded the size of the room the food pantry is in, and we have a lot more shelving and a lot more food we can offer.

“Our Iluka Op-Shop and food pantry are open from Tuesday to Friday, and on Saturday morning from 9am to 1pm.”

Wellspring Christian Church’s Yamba Op shop on Treelands Drive is open from 9am till 2pm Monday to Wednesday and 9am to 4pm on Thursday and Friday, while the Iluka Op Shop on Charles Street opens between 9am and 2pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, 9am to 3.30pm on Thursday and Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday.

Wellspring Christian Church Yamba will be holding a 10am service on Christmas Day, all are welcome.

Christmas meals – Grafton

For those people who don’t have anyone to share a meal with at Christmas, two generous, community minded organisations will be serving Christmas lunch and dinner in Grafton.

  • Mend and Make Do Crew – Orphans Christmas lunch from 11am to 2pm at the South Grafton studio, sheds 1 and 3, 46 Through Street, South Grafton.

Donations of food are welcome for the Mend and Make Do Crew’s third Christmas lunch in air-conditioned comfort. This is a sober event, and everyone is welcome.

  • New Life Church – Christmas dinner – enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner at the New Life Church from 5.30pm at 132 Arthur Street, Grafton.
Clarence Valley Independent 20 December 2023

This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 20 December 2023.


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