By Anika and Elina Banerji
Christmas time has always been the time for giving, whether that be time, service, gifts or something else. However, we live in a society that is rapidly becoming more materialistic, and for the people that can barely keep their heads above the water, Christmas is a time when they have little to celebrate. Inevitably, this year has presented our society with abundant adversity; challenging people of all socio-economic backgrounds, religions affiliations and other minorities with existing hardship. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly contributed to even more economic instability, making it hard for low-income families and people living in poverty to afford basic necessities.
3.24 million people in Australia (13.6% of the population) live below the poverty line and more than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line in Australia (1). This is an appalling statistic, which will and must change.
As Loreto Girls, we believe that we can make a difference to people who may be finding it difficult to find any glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel; as we believe in evolving a society that is equitable, and just.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world”.
We here at Loreto are visionaries, we believe that with the right goal, the right aim, we truly can make a difference and impact the status quo. Small initiatives are going a long way, and this Christmas you can help bring a glimmer of hope into someone’s life; who really needs it.
Loreto has been creating and donating “Vinnies Hampers” at Christmas time for many years now. These Vinnies Hampers have been making a dynamic difference to many of these people’s lives, adding a bit of the merry Christmas spirit to their festive season.
In this article, we have interviewed Molly Haymen; the “Social Justice Captain” for 2021, and her answers to certain questions we have asked will be integrated throughout.
In Molly’s words, these Vinnies hampers are going to our local Vinnies around the Hornsby area. She says that the COVID-19 pandemic has put an increased amount of financial and emotional stress on many local people this year, leaving nearly 900,000 people in unemployment and under the poverty line. This is a harsh cycle as the people in these situations can be in severe emotional distress and struggle to seek help for their circumstances. Furthermore, Vinnies have had a much higher demand for its services. Our hampers are going to be given to our local Vinnies in order to help these people - which is a great way of giving back to the community.
Being Loreto girls, it is crucial to give back to the community, seeing as it is one of our core values that form the foundation of our body. Although it has been hard to give service to those in the community that need it because of our circumstances, giving generously to the Vinnies Hampers will inevitably impact many of these people’s lives.
In Molly’s words, “Christmas is a time to give, not just to get, and is a vital part of why everyone loves this time of year! We all need to be conscious of those in the greater community who may be ‘forgotten’ this Christmas as an act of generosity will go a long way. As always, we need to remember that every person is deserving of love & joy, despite the circumstances they are in,”
If you can take the time to imagine the joy on someones face, whether it be a small child, or an elderly woman - just knowing that they are loved, and cared for and that they will experience happiness at Christmas time, is something to cherish, and something that they will hold in their hearts forever.
In Molly’s words, this is something important to consider during Christmas time because it is a time of year that is full of celebration and joy and brings people together, but, however, many people cannot have a Christmas like this due to challenging circumstances like poverty and homelessness. It is so important to not forget and reach out to these people as much as we can, and contributing to the Vinnies hampers is such a great way to do so!
A tip from Molly is that: when you are bringing things in for the hampers, it so important to consider is sustainability and ethics- whether the presents we give are ethically made (not made in sweatshops), that wrapping paper or decorations don’t go straight to landfill and is reusable, and ensuring that we don’t go overboard and waste any food. Being conscious of our environmental and ethical impacts during Christmas time is very important.
“I have found that amongst its other beliefs, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” -Maya Angelou
Think of giving and donating as glitter, it spreads everywhere and leaves a mark of brightness and joy everywhere it goes.
1. B. Bradbury, P Davidson and M. Wong., Poverty in Australia 2020 - part 1: overview, Australian Council of Social Services, University of New South Wales, 21st of Feb, 2020.