By Danielle Kutchel
Christmas is a time for family – but for kids in out of home care, it can be a particularly difficult time of year.
Cranbourne-based charity Backpacks for Vic Kids, which provides care packs to children in out of home care, is trying to alleviate the loneliness and discomfort of the situation by providing kids in need with Santa sack care packs for Christmas.
Already, volunteers for the organisation are hard at work, stuffing the sacks with much-needed presents and essentials to provide comfort to kids in need.
The packs include a book, a soft toy and a ‘something else’, which could be a craft kit, a construction kit or body care product.
All items are new and appropriate for the age of the child receiving them.
Sally Beard, founder and secretary of Backpacks for Vic Kids, said 1993 children had registered to receive the sacks – a 500 pack increase on last year.
But it’s still a fraction of the number of kids in Victoria who will spend Christmas in out of home care.
But Ms Beard said that’s just a tiny fraction of the 12,000 children who are expected to be in out of home care placements around Victoria on Christmas Eve.
Once filled, the packs will be sent all across Victoria, from Warrnambool to Mildura and everywhere in between, to children in various forms of out of home care, including foster or kinship care arrangements.
In fact, deliveries have already started. Ms Beard explained that the organisation wants to get the gifts to case workers and counsellors well before Christmas so they can be given to children on their last visit before the occasion, or at Christmas parties.
But to complete the orders, Ms Beard said Backpacks for Vic Kids needs a bit of help from the community.
“We’re very short on books for teenage boys, and soft toy for teenagers. We will need volunteers too,” she said.
The organisation has set up a Facebook page called Christmas for Kids in Care, where they post details of packing sessions.
“If people can help with the age ranges we need more of, that would be amazing,” Ms Beard said.
“We will do our best to give these kids something to smile about this Christmas.”