Christmas should be a time for celebrating and goodwill. Spending time with those you love the most and reflecting on the good times. Yet for many local families across the Illawarra it is a time of hardship and struggle. For too many children, it lacks the happiness and joy we all too often take for granted. 

Eight years ago Member for Keira Ryan Park first launched a toy drive. He had the aim of collecting enough toys for the 12 children who would spend Christmas in the local women’s refuge. 

“Year on year this toy drive has continued to grow thanks to our very generous community. So many kind people come year after year with gifts because that is what the true spirit of Christmas is, the spreading of goodwill.

Since then the drive has continued to grow, with great community support, to now enable children who are in outreach services to also receive gifts for Christmas. These families have often fled domestic violence and flee with only the clothes on their backs.

“When you consider the dreadful circumstances that these families have had to endure, often leaving everything, to seek safety at the women’s refuge, it breaks your heart.

Mr Park is urging locals to again rally behind these families and buy a gift for a child this Christmas.  The ages of the children vary from newborns to teenagers.

Mr Park is encouraging individuals to deliver new and unwrapped gifts to his office at 247 Princes Highway.

“I am asking for new and unwrapped presents to be dropped off to my office. The simple pleasure of wrapping a gift for your child and watching their face as they open it on Christmas day is truly a precious moment for any parent.

“I can’t bear the thought of a child waking up on Christmas morning to nothing under the tree. It is for this reason that I am asking everyone who can, to pop an extra toy in your shopping trolley this year and bring a big smile to the faces of kids at Christmas.