Sallies save Christmas
Does the approaching festive season fill you with dread?
Help is available if buying presents and feeding the family seems impossible on top of all the other expenses.
"When you walk through the door, you become part of our family and our community," Salvation Army community ministries director Jason Dilger says.
The organisation offers a range of welfare services and works with more than 700 families at Christmas time.
This year has been a busy one.
"We've given out close to 4000 food parcels this year and done more than 450 budgeting sessions.
"The need is still significant. After the financial crisis hit, that need never really went away."
Things get really tough for families around Christmas and Mr Dilger says the food bank at the Salvation Army's Royal Oak branch has been very busy already.
He is asking readers of the Central Leader to help by donating whatever non-perishable food items they can spare.
Nicola Dobbie is the operations and volunteer team leader. She says the foodbank's shelves are looking bare because the Salvation Army gets fewer donations. But more and more people are coming in for food parcels.
"We're doing a lot of praying," she says.
Large corporates do support the service generously with donations of food but extra is needed.
"Christmas and New Year are hard, budgeting-wise, for families. In the new year they have school books, uniforms and stationery to think about. It's the toughest time because parents feel pressure to provide presents for their kids. And the extended family expects food."
Mr Dilger says Newmarket Rotary Club members volunteer to pack Christmas hampers and toys every year.
"They do about 400 hampers in one night," he says.
Whether accommodation, food, clothing or debt is the most pressing issue, Mr Dilger says families should feel welcome to seek help.
"When you come and see us, it's relaxed, it's easy.
"We are strong on relationships here. Come and see us and we can share and help each other."
The Salvation Army is at 691 Mt Albert Rd, Royal Oak. Phone 639 1181.