When Viv Baum and Stephen Bode from the Rotary Club of Croydon and Montrose showed up at the head office of Refuge Victoria with two large carloads of presents for children who are spending Christmas in our refuges and crisis properties, we were filled with such gratitude.
We know what the gifts mean to these wonderful children who already, in their short lives have endured so much. We also know how much these unexpected gifts will mean to their mums, who otherwise would have struggled to put presents under the tree.
Yet, what was really wonderful was that the carloads of gifts, collected by Ray White Real Estate Croydon as part of the Little Ray of Giving Christmas initiative, were the latest of several really amazing donations Refuge Victoria received in the lead up to Christmas.
It seems that while the past two years have been challenging for families, businesses and individuals, Victorians are still thinking of others, particularly women and children escaping family violence.
Every year since 2012, Ray White Real Estate has been running the very successful Little Ray of Giving program, when they encourage the whole community to donate toys and gifts for children and families doing it tough at Christmas.
This year, our local community really stepped up, with groups, businesses, families and individuals digging deep to donate toys, gifts and special Christmas food items, which Refuge Victoria staff are busy distributing to families in refuge.
Refuge Victoria has also received gift packs make up specifically for older children and teens by The Generosity Collective that we know are going to big a huge hit on Christmas Day.
Some donations are the result of some very crafty groups. BJ Quilters recently dropped off some truly gorgeous handmade Christmas quilts, stockings and fabric bags while Knitting for the Needy donated bright red hand knitted stockings stuffed with treats for the kids along with books and toys.
But it hasn’t been just groups and businesses in the giving frame of mind this Christmas. One generous and community-minded family delivered 20 gift packs for families in refuge this Christmas, with items selected and packed by the kids, with help from their parents.
A former Refuge Victoria staff member also popped in with a stunning gingerbread house to pass on, thinking it might brighten one family’s day.
Of course, the needs of families living in refuge and crisis accommodation go well beyond presents for Christmas. We’d like to give a particular shoutout to Maroondah City Council staff for donating their workplace giving funds, Priority 1 Wealth Management, Outer East ECIB, Share the Dignity and IMPACT for the much-needed donations of everyday necessities and Philip Webb Real Estate for their donation of 20 food hampers.
Working in the area of family violence means we sometimes see the very worst side of humans. Yet at times like this when we experience the thoughtful, kindness and generosity of our community, it feels like a real triumph of light over darkness. The many children who wake up on Christmas morning with gifts and treats under their tree will never be able to thank the generous donors who gave them. But we see their faces filled with such excitement and happiness that saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who has given generously this year, just doesn’t seem enough.
But, thank you.
If you would like to support the work of Refuge Victoria, your donation will be warmly welcomed.
Main image: Viv Baum and Stephen Bode from the Rotary Club of Croydon and Montrose, with Refuge Victoria’s Carolyn Clay (centre).