Christmas hampers to provide a fresh take on a helping hand
THE BOWEN Christmas appeal has been helping struggling families for decades and this year it will be helping more than just recipients.
The Bowen Neighbourhood Centre, The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and Chayim Community Care are looking forward to being able to provide the annual hamper appeal to make this Christmas one to remember for disadvantaged people in Bowen.
Bowen Neighbourhood Centre co-ordinator Stephanie Cora said 187 hampers were distributed last year and aided 87 families and 86 singles, with about the same expected this year.
Ms Cora said a number of changes had been made to give a fresh take on the helping hand.
The changes include allowing recipients to select their toys, changing to food vouchers from food boxes and buying locally to support Bowen businesses.
"We want to still give everything we always have, but also now let families have a bit more choice," Ms Cora said.
"This year we've really tried to help our local Bowen businesses, as we know they've struggled of late, and they've well and truly given back to us.
"Some of the retailers have given us huge discounts that must almost cut their entire profit margin so that they can help us."
Retailers who have come on board have included Bowen Toyworld, Centrepoint Showcase Jewellers, Bowen sports power, Bi-rite and Target.
Bowen Toyworld Owner Sue Mawhirt said the business wanted to give back as much as possible to the cause.
"At that time of year you don't want anyone, especially kids, to miss out," she said.
"We're very happy to help ensure that there's smiles on everyone's face at Christmas time.
"We also really appreciate them helping us though, they've spent a lot of money through not just us, but businesses all through Bowen, and at the moment it helps so much."
The Christmas appeal would be impossible without the contribution from the community and grant money, and Ms Cora said they have been blessed to have great support.
"The whole community gets behind it, and organisations like ourselves, Salvation Army and Chayim Cottage wouldn't be able to do it without help," she said.
"Most recently we received a substantial grant from the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors which helped a lot, but also donations from organisations like Bowen Tourism and Business and Whitsunday Regional Council help it to be possible.
"It's a lot of work to coordinate, but it's so incredibly rewarding to be able to provide."
Bowen Neighbourhood Centre is now taking applications for the Christmas hamper appeal.
Applications can be collected from the centre and need to be returned by November 29.
All applicants need to have a Centrelink income statement (Newstart, parenting payment, disability or age pension) and a current phone number or they will not be processed.