The Christmas project began in 1994 out of an awareness of the poverty and social isolation of residents living at Licensed ( now Assisted) Boarding Houses. As a result of advocacy, legislative change and effective monitoring, living conditions have improved. The NDIS has reduced social isolation. However, residents still have little personal money, and very few have regular contact with family or friends.
As these people move to group homes or aged care, they remain poor and friendless. We keep in contact with them, and have followed some people since 1994.
Personal Gift Parcels
In 2019, 890 men and women across NSW received gift parcels of toiletries, socks and lollies.
These people were in varied living situations:
- 6 Assisted Boarding Houses
- 47 Group Homes
- 28 Aged Care facilities
- 33 people living independently with support
Parcels are sent throughout Sydney, to the Blue Mountains, the Southern Highlands, Sutherland Shire and the Central Coast.
Festive Food Hampers
Double washing basket hampers of festive food were provided to 5 Assisted Boarding Houses in Sydney.
Greg Bombell from Exercise, Prescription and Physiotherapy at Burwood helped raise funds in 2019 to buy and deliver a ham to each Assisted Boarding House. His clients also donated festive food.
Toiletry, Food and Gift Hampers
In 2019, 490 gift hampers containing a complete range of toiletries, enough basic food for three days, festive food, a calendar and a gift pack were prepared for clients of:
- Redfern, Marrickville and Canterbury Mental Health teams
- The Mobile Assertive Treatment team
- The Camperdown Core teams including The Case Management Team and Aboriginal Mental Health
- Royal Prince Alfred Drugs Health team
63 clients and many case workers joined us for a sit-down festive lunch on Christmas Day. They sat at tables in our double carport. Volunteers served them drinks and nibbles, then a main course and desert, then distributed presents.
A coded system allows interested people to send a personal Christmas card to one of the 890 people on our database. In 2019, about 14,000 coded labels were distributed. Cards come back to the Gethsemane post box and are re-directed to the actual facility where the individual lives. Potentially, each person could receive at least 10 cards. These people never receive personal mail, so the cards are greatly enjoyed. They are often used to decorate a person’s room or the walls of their boarding house.
All of the above requires the help of volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer your time or services please visit our become a volunteer page and fill in the form. If you’d like to donate to Gethsemane Community Inc. click the button below. Any amount makes a big difference and it’s tax deductible.
Below is a short documentary about the Christmas Project and how it brings happiness to some of Sydney’s loneliest people at Christmas.