As we begin to hear jingle bell tunes and get into the merry spirit of Christmas, one Mudgee family has teamed up with We Care Community Shop to make the festive season a little easier for those in need.
After hearing how many Mid-Western families were affected by COVID in 2020, Amy Lee set about finding a way to help others, all while teaching her two daughters a lesson in giving.
"In 2020 after the first wave of COVID hit, it was really concerning to hear how many local families were so affected, especially in the lead up to Christmas," she said.
A scroll on social media sparked an idea for the Mudgee mum - a 'reverse advent calendar' - who then planned how the care packages/hampers would work.
"I had a bit of a scroll on the internet and came across a 'reverse advent calendar'. It was very American-based but I thought it was such a great concept and decided to create my own," Mrs Lee said.
"I explained to my girls that we were going to donate a hamper as a family. They told me they wanted to use their pocket money to pay for one as well.
"I was so impressed they made that decision for themselves after I explained to them how there were some people who couldn't afford these things. I was even happier that we would be able to help two local families."
Once the final stages of planning were complete, Mrs Lee united with the We Care Community Shop who went on to distribute the hampers, helping 40 families across the area.
"I reached out to Donna [Collins] at the We Care Community Shop to see if she would pass them on to two families in need, and after hearing from her how grateful these families would be and just how many families there were in need locally, it got me thinking," Mrs Lee said.
"I popped a post on both my personal Facebook page and in the community group, and the response I got was overwhelming.
"With all of the donations, Donna was able to help over 40 families with hampers for the Christmas period."
Mrs Lee recently put the same call out on social media to encourage fellow locals to take part in the idea, and so far, "I've already had a great response from my Facebook posts".
Donna Collins from We Care Community Shop said a different type of clientele have found themselves in need this year.
"It's a whole different set of clients this year, it's people who never in their wildest dreams thought they would find themselves in this situation," Ms Collins said.
"It's through COVID, mostly. They've lost work, they've lost hours. It's been a really crappy year for many. It's changed a lot of things for a lot of people, sadly, and not for the better.
"For a lot of them, the hardest thing they've had to do is ask."
The '2021 reverse advent calendar' can be done by any member of the public, and involves:
- November 24 - A packet of pasta
- November 25 - A jar of pasta sauce
- November 26 - Baked beans and spaghetti
- November 27 - A box of 'fun' cereal
- November 28 - Long-life milk
- November 29 - Box of coffee sticks
- November 30 - Packet of candy canes
- December 1 - Bag of Christmas chocolates
- December 2 - Bag of chips
- December 3 - Packet of sweet biscuits
- December 4 - Packet of savoury biscuits
- December 5 - Bottle of soft drink
- December 6 - Packet of ice blocks (Zooper Doopers or similar)
- December 7 - Packet of jelly
- December 8 - Cake/dessert mix
- December 9 - Canned cream
- December 10 - Meringue nests
- December 11 - Tin of fruit salad and passionfruit
- December 12 - Reindeer food and a cookie for Santa
- December 13 - A Christmas cake/pudding
- December 14 - A Christmas book
- December 15 - $10 Woolies gift card
Completing all (or some) items on the list, or donating money to the We Care Community Shop for the purchase of a hamper are options.
"The community, as usual, has been amazing. People like Amy make what we do all worthwhile, they come up with an idea and the community responds," Ms Collins said.
Donations will be collected until December 15.
"The more we get, the more we can give," Ms Collins said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: