The festive season can be anything but merry for people going through hard times. The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW runs its annual Christmas Appeal so that people in need have someone to turn to.

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW President Denis Walsh launched the 2016 Christmas Appeal with a plea to the public to give generously.

“Every day Vinnies assists over 5000 people, but this number increases substantially over the Christmas period–last year this figure exceeded 26,000 people. So while most of us are out having fun, for others this time can be a stark reminder of their difficult circumstances,” says Mr Walsh.

Stories like Anna’s, who fled her abusive, alcoholic husband but remained the hero in her children’s eyes, is a harsh reminder about those who do it tough.

Anna lived in the affluent Northern Beaches of Sydney. When she decided to leave, she had nothing and was forced to live in her car at a public beach with two small children. As Christmas approached, Anna knew she could not offer her children the Christmas they used to enjoy and contacted Vinnies.

“I just kept thinking to myself ‘how am I going to provide for my children?’,” Anna says.

“Vinnies listened and made a plan to assist us to get back on our feet, and that was the most important thing. It wasn’t just generosity, it was that they helped me improve my situation.”

Food, including vouchers and hampers, made up nearly 50 per cent of the total spend of over $2.7 million during the 2015-16 festive season (11/15-01/16). In addition to this, the Society assisted with the distribution of $920,944 worth of EAPA vouchers across the state for electricity bills.

Jack de Groot St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO says these figures are very confronting.

“People are battling to pay the rent, put food on the table and pay for their energy usage. We are experiencing a homelessness crisis in NSW because of the lack of affordable housing. The stress of not being able to afford the rent is growing, placing families under greater pressure than ever before,” says Mr de Groot.

“Having no place to call home, being unable to afford a basic Christmas meal or even small gifts is humiliating and often devastating for families. The funds we raise through the Christmas Appeal allows us to restore dignity at Christmas.”

Please donate to the 2016 Vinnies Christmas Appeal so that we can continue to change lives every day. It can make all the difference and turn a time of unhappiness into a Christmas to remember.

“My children’s birthdays are around Christmas so Vinnies was able to provide Christmas presents and birthday presents. It was a prayer answered for me,” says Anna.

To show your support and make a donation visit www.vinnies.org.au or call 13 18 12.

Media contact:  Felicity Harvey | Felicity.harvey@vinnies.org.au | 0417 446 430