Christmas for the kids at Marian Centre

21 December 2021

Throughout the year, the staff at Elsie’s and Marian Centre have been helping women and children escape domestic and family violence.

Part of this is making sure the children have a place to live where they have safe, secure accommodation but also an environment that is happy and engaging for them.

The enthusiastic staff have found some fantastic ways to create some Christmas magic for the kids and their mums.

“I go overboard at Christmas because I just love Christmas and the concept of it.

“The families – spoiling them – you should see the sacks full of stuff that we have for them for Christmas morning,” says Marie Crotty, Accommodation Team Leader at the two centres.

There is no doubting Marie when she says this for two reasons: the obvious excitement in her voice and her brightly painted, alternating red and green nails, done for the previous day’s Marian Centre Christmas party.

This year, throughout December, the staff at the Centre have been running daily hunts by the children for their elf on a shelf.

After being introduced to the children, spending a day in isolation in a bain marie in a mask and gloves, staff have been hiding him in different locations in the building each night.

“Tonight, he’s going to be up to more mischief in the kitchen.

“He’s going to be baking or cooking and he’s going to make a mess all over the kitchen counter and there’ll be little angel wings drawn – like the way you draw angel wings in the snow,” Marie says.

“The kids, in the morning, as soon as they come downstairs to go to school or whatever, they come down first thing in the morning they are running around like lunatics to see who can find the elf first.

“So, it’s great fun.

“It’s something fun and it’s something they’re enjoying and mums are getting into it as well.

“It just takes their mind off their problems for a little while,” Marie says.

At the Christmas party on the 16th of December, a St Vincent de Paul Society NSW staff member, dressed as Santa, distributed presents to children at the Marian Centre.

“When they come downstairs on the 25th, we have the Christmas tree in the foyer and all the Christmas bags, like big Santa sacks, are at the bottom of the tree with their names on it.

“From the end of September, early October, our staff are reaching out to different companies for gifts and ordering our food hampers and all different things.

“But this is the highlight of the year for me, personally, and for most of the staff, this is what makes it.

“Just yesterday, seeing the kids, the joy on their faces and they don’t realise they’re going to get more,” Marie says.

Christmas may be a special time of year but Marian Centre staff run activities for the children year-round.

“We have weekly activities with the kids, whether it be arts and crafts or games – like yesterday one of the staff dressed up as a clown.

“She was Calamity the Clown.

“She did loads of magic, she was absolutely brilliant and the kids loved her.

“It was just priceless.

“She made animal balloons for them as well.

“For the preschool kids we would have activities two mornings a week.

“And for the kids at school, we have after school activities two afternoon a week as well.

“So, yes, there’s always something,” Marie says.