SOUTHLAND’S vulnerable families will enjoy some Christmas cheer this year thanks to members of the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club.
Club president Peter Kennedy and his wife Cindy are the driving forces behind an appeal to collect Christmas presents and raise funds to purchase gifts for families being supported by the Invercargill Women’s Refuge at Christmas-time.
Mrs Kennedy said the club usually supported the food bank every year, but this year it wanted to do something different and do a present drive rather than a food drive.
Mrs Kennedy’s daughter Emma Keen is organising a boutique market at the Corinthian Conventions Centre on Saturday to support the appeal.
Mrs Keen said she could not think of a charity which needed the help more.
“People in the refuge walk out with nothing and, with having to rebuild their lives, Christmas is not a priority,” she said.
Rather than giving the families practical items, such as clothing, the organisers wanted to treat the families with toys and nice things.
“We want them to feel like Santa came,” Mrs Keen said.
The boutique market, which will include a variety of stalls selling such things as jewellery, clothing and soaps as well as food stalls and raffles, is being held on Saturday from 3pm to 9pm.
Four of the 36 stallholders involved had been assisted by Women’s Refuge and were really excited about the opportunity to give back, she said.
The stallholders would pay a fee to be part of the market, which would go towards the appeal. Some stallholders had also offered to donate 10% of their profit on the night towards the fundraising efforts, she said.
Mrs Kennedy said Southland businesses had been very generous, getting behind the appeal with advertising and raffle prizes.
Invercargill Women’s Refuge services co-ordinator Cathy Robertson said she was grateful for the support.
The refuge supported between 60 to 80 families on average all year-round, she said.
“We are busy all the time, dealing with a huge amount of families.”
Christmas brought a lot of stress for people when they were trying to provide for their families, she said.
Gifts could be dropped off to the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club until Friday, December 14, or to donate, go to givealittle.co.nz/cause/give-a-gift-this-Christmas.
Mrs Kennedy said the toy appeal would become an annual event for the club.