By Petrina Wright | Posted: Tuesday December 5, 2023
There will be something special waiting under the Christmas tree for Southland children in need this year thanks to Invercargill Central partnering with Family Works.
“Christmas can be a stressful time for some of the families we support, with families often experiencing added financial hardship at this time of year,” Family Works managers Irene Te Koeti and Kris Wallis said.
“Providing Christmas presents for children who would otherwise miss out will help take the pressure off our families and bring them some Christmas cheer.”
For more than 10 years, families in the Family Start Programme had been the recipient of the H&J Smith Secret Santa Tree.
Following the closure of H&J Smith this year, staff at Invercargill Central approached Family Works offering to host the gift appeal in the shopping centre.
Family Works was thrilled Invercargill Central had taken up the mantle from H&J Smith.
“We are so grateful to Invercargill Central for picking up the thread from H&Js to ensure our families have a happy Christmas,” Irene said.
Invercargill Central centre manager Kelvin Mooney said they were pleased to be able to continue the tradition of supporting families at Christmas in the Family Start Programme.
“Giving our customers the opportunity to bring some joy to families on Christmas morning is a great way to celebrate the festive season.”
An 18-foot Christmas tree sits in pride of place at the eastern end of the shopping complex ready to receive Christmas presents for children on the Family Start Programme and their siblings who are in need of additional support.
From now until Christmas Eve, shoppers are able to place new, unwrapped gifts under the tree suitable for children from birth to 16 years of age.
Family Work’s Family Start Programme is a free, home-based programme to support parents of children from birth to five years of age who are experiencing difficulties, such as housing issues, multiple births, relationship issues, physical or mental health issues, lack of support, or addictions.
The programme is offered in Invercargill, Te Anau, Manapouri, Gore and Mataura.