Santa has arrived at shopping malls with lines growing of excited children ready to tell him what they would like for Christmas and smile for the annual photo, but for many children and families across the region Christmas is not always a time of happiness.


Local residents are being asked to play Santa for hundreds of local children who have fled domestic violence or are living in crisis accommodation by adding an extra toy to their shopping trolley when doing their Christmas shopping, to help bring a smile to the faces of some of the innocent victims of domestic violence and homelessness across the Illawarra.


The Annual Ryan Park Toy Drive is now in its fourth year has grown each year as the demand for help has also increased. All toys are donated to local women’s refuges* and the Wollongong Homeless Hub which are then distributed to families in need across the Illawarra.


These kids have fled from violent situations or lucky to even have a roof over their heads let alone all the trimmings of Christmas.


Toys are needed for children aged from newborn up to 18 years of age.


SAHSSI is a not for profit Specialist Homelessness Service covering the Illawarra / Shoalhaven District. SAHSSI provide support and referrals to clients and specialise in the following areas:


  • Homelessness
  • Domestic and Family violence
  • Women’s Services
  • Corrective Services
  • Mental Health – Partners in Recovery



Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Illawarra Ryan Park:



For most of us, Christmas is a time to celebrate with family and friends surrounded by happiness and festive joy.  Unfortunately, for many in the Illawarra, Christmas isn’t like this and I want to try and change this for these young people and their families. 


Some children will not wake up in their own beds but in the local women’s refuge Christmas morning. These families have often lived and fled from terrible circumstances, with nothing but the clothes on their back and I am urging our community to help provide some joy this Christmas.


Each year I have been overwhelmed by the number of toys that are donated, by the end my office resembles a toy shop and I have seen the smiles and tears of joy this generosity brings to those most in need. This year I am asking locals to again support the most vulnerable in our community.


Kids deserve to have something to smile about, even more so at Christmas. This is about making sure these kids get to wake up and enjoy the magic of Christmas, just like every other child across the Illawarra will.