Christmas appeal gives feeling of hope

Emma Keen (front) and Cathy Kennedy, of the Invercargill Workingmen's Club, with some of the presents donated so far to families being supported by Invercargill Women's Refuge this Christmas PHOTO: PETRINA WRIGHT

THE spirit of Christmas will be alive and well at Invercargill Women’s Refuge this year, thanks to the generosity of the members and supporters of the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club (IWMC).

For the second time, IWMC president Peter Kennedy and his wife Cindy are running a ‘Give a Gift for Kids’ appeal for families being supported by the refuge.

‘‘It’s about giving back to the community… giving something to those families who leave with nothing,’’ Mrs Kennedy said.

‘‘Some of these kids have never had Christmas. They think Santa doesn’t know where they live.’’

They are asking the public to drop off Christmas presents suitable for children aged from birth to 18 years to IWMC until Friday, December 13.

They would also accept cash donations.

The donations would be given to Invercargill Women’s Refuge to distribute to the families it was supporting during the Christmas season.

Mrs Kennedy said Invercargill Women’s Refuge could have up to 70 families working with the refuge during the Christmas season.

They ran the appeal last year for the first time and were surprised and delighted by the response.

They received so many presents it filled their sleigh 10 times, equating to two trailerloads and five carloads of presents transported to the women’s refuge.

They also raised $8000, which was used, in part, to provide the majority of families with food vouchers towards their Christmas dinner.

A single mother of two boys, who was among the recipients of the Christmas present drive last year, said, ‘‘receiving the gifts from Women’s Refuge last year literally brought me to tears. I will never forget the look of amazement and excitement on the boys’ faces when they saw their presents.

‘‘Isolation is a huge unwelcome part of domestic violence. It helps you feel ‘normal’ again and not alone to know others have so generously given to you in your time of need. It reminded me that people do care and it will not always be like this. It gave me a feeling of hope.’’

Invercargill Women’s Refuge services co-ordinator Cathy Robertson said, ‘‘we are so very grateful and appreciative for the work that Emma, Cindy and helpers have put into making this so successful, to help the families that we are supporting and have supported over the year. The generosity and kindness from the community is amazing.’’

Mrs Kennedy also thanked the refuge’s business sponsors Spark Business Hub, The Warehouse, Southland Real Estate and The Mortgage Supply Company for their
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