Christmas means different things to different people.
For some people, Christmas brings extreme delight. It means holidays and carols and watching children’s faces light up with incompatible joy. It means heightened community spirit and banding together with colleagues or friends to donate toys or volunteer time.
But for some people, Christmas brings extreme stress.
For the family whose meagre income doesn’t cover the cost of living, let alone the funds for Christmas presents for their children.
For the woman who fears that too much Christmas cheer will mean she ends up bruised on the kitchen floor, thanks to a violent partner.
For the young person whose personal demons don’t take a Christmas break and are tortured by feelings of worthlessness and despondency.
For the children in care who are separated from their parents, seeing the fantasy of perfect families living perfect lives in perfect Christmas television shows.
For the homeless man who spends the day reminiscing on a past where he didn’t have to worry about whether he would get through the night safely.
For the parents whose children are gripped by drug and alcohol, and who aren’t quite sure whether Christmas lunch will bring joy, or destruction.
For the prisoner who wonders how they got to this place, and the price they are now paying for their past.
For these people, Christmas is not a time of great joy.
At Christmas, Samaritans is honoured to be a part of bringing joy to those who may otherwise have no way to celebrate.
Samaritans has proudly served the people of the Hunter region for nearly 35 years. Samaritans work extends to the marginalised and vulnerable people who experience that extreme stress at all times of the year, but particularly at Christmas.
Across the region, organisations have set up Christmas giving trees in their workplaces, churches, and community centres. This helps Samaritans to distribute over 1000 gifts to children across the Hunter for Christmas.
Our Christmas Day lunches run in Newcastle, Singleton and Wyong and we expect in excess of 1600 people this year. These events are staffed by more than 250 volunteers.
The people we share food and entertainment with on Christmas Day may be lonely, they may have no means to celebrate or they may be homeless. Our lunches are open to everyone.
The sense of community and the generosity from people in the Hunter at Christmas time is heart-warming. It’s fantastic to know that when people are facing a busy time in their lives, our local community are still considering others to ensure that everyone enjoys the delight of Christmas day in some way.
Samaritans is a facilitator of this region’s generosity and we owe a great deal of thanks to the overwhelming number of local businesses, community groups and individuals who donate their goods, money and time to making Christmas joyful for people who would otherwise go without.
It is through your kindness that Samaritans brings life to the true meaning of Christmas.
Not only would I like to thank the people who donate money and goods and volunteer their time, but I’d also like to thank the locals who allow Samaritans to serve them in their time of greatest need.
We are grateful to meet you, to sit and learn about your goals and dreams for the future and to work alongside you to achieve them. Your success is our greatest joy.
In 2019, Samaritans will continue to be there for the people of the Hunter. We will continue to bring to life our mission, which is to provide unconditional support to people in their needs and to promote just social and economic policies. And we will continue to work towards a future where everyone can thrive.
Samaritans would like to wish our generous community a Merry Christmas.