CAN YOU HELP?
Be An Elf is a Not For Profit organisation, which was formed to directly assist disadvantaged children and their families in local communities near YOU.
Our mission year round is to help transform lives by meeting basic human needs- food, clothing, housing, education and counselling, in addition giving ‘at risk’ young people and their families, a sense of purpose and emotional support.
Our volunteers are out there every week seeking to make a difference!
It may be cold now and getting colder. However, as the weather gets warmer in South East Queensland, it’s a strange combination of excitement and stress that carries us into the Christmas season. For those of us who are lucky enough to have time with our families, this can be a time of connection, joy, and (most important to the kids), presents.
In our little part of the world though, there are still many children who never get to have the Christmas that they dream of. We at Matchbox Community Services are doing our best to change that.
The Christmas Be An Elf campaign has been helping children in underprivileged homes to have a better Christmas since 2006. As our eleventh year working on this campaign, we are hoping to make this Christmas bigger and better than ever!
Many people we have spoken to have found it difficult to believe that the hardships we see daily here could even exist in a part of the world as developed as coastal Queensland. Violence, drug abuse, hunger, and homelessness speak to us of places far away; of people who we will never meet. Unfortunately, due to many social issues in our country, people in need rarely speak out, and a child in your neighbourhood, your child’s school, or sports team may need some serious support over the holiday period.
Domestic violence, drug abuse and homelessness are a secret shame in our society. Never spoken about, and rarely seen in public, these issues are in fact growing in many regions of the country. In the Logan district alone, there are over 500 children under the age of fifteen who are designated as “homeless”. These children are often invisible to us as we go through our day to day lives.
The Be An Elf campaign aims to bring some hope into the lives of young people in Southeast Queensland by collecting letters from children who are socially deprived. These “letters to Santa” ask the child for their Christmas wish list, and our amazing donors try to fill these requests. All the gifts are then taken out to the homes of the children before Christmas Eve every year.
The requests are often not very difficult to fill, with most gifts consisting of necessities that we in a more privileged environment probably take for granted. Underwear, socks, school lunch boxes, school shoes, bags of lollies, sheets for their beds, towels, clothing, books, toothpaste and other personal hygiene products are some of our most commonly requested items. These children rarely ask for much, their expectations about what they can have in life have been crushed due to their exposure to extreme poverty and hardship.
If you are interested in being an Elf Helper for Christmas 2017, all you need to do is contact us. We will be collecting letters from children in the most disadvantaged areas from late August this year, and sadly, there will be hundreds of them. A letter will be forwarded to you as a donor, and you will be asked to fill it to the best of your capability. Even if you can’t fill the whole list yourself, just one item on the list would brighten the life of a child in need. You can also register as a group, perhaps in the office or workplace or as a group of friends, to fill one letter together, or better yet several letters.
The reason that we focus on gifts rather than raising money at this time of year, is because the unfortunate reality is that often the money meant for kids ends up being spent by the parents, sometimes to feed addiction. There have even been cases of parents selling more expensive donated gifts the day after Christmas, so we try to keep an eye on the families in the community, to make sure that the child isn’t being taken advantage of. We do however happily receive gift certificates and vouchers, which we pass onto one of our volunteers, so that they can go shopping for the child and assure that they can get what they want.
Once your letter has been filled, we accept all donated gifts at one of our drop off centres, (to be decided) We are also arranging a drop off point in the Brisbane CBD this year. Alternatively, just ring us and one of our volunteers can pick up donated gifts in his commercial vehicle.
The kindness of our donors over the years has brought more joy than you could imagine to the children that we work with, and we at Matchbox Community Services are astounded by the generosity we see every year.
Please feel free to contact either June Hintz (0408 256 251) or Steve Brimblecombe (0468 323 677) for any requests for the wish list letters or they can also provide you with a list of commonly requested items, which we can gift wrap for the children, as well. Last year we filled 1200 letters and we hope to do better this Xmas. Please help and join our army of Elf Helpers this Xmas.
If you would like to volunteer to help this year, we certainly would appreciate your help.