It all began with a beautiful exchange. A willing heart and hand extended to take a simple red bag to fill generously with food, Christmas goodies and toys.
Every year we rally the church in the lead up to Christmas through our Stuff the Bus Christmas Appeal to share what we have in our hand and help to make Christmas brighter and special for others.
To all those who generously gave of their time and resources to make our 2016 Stuff the Bus Christmas Appeal successful – we say thank you!
We are always grateful for a very generous church and this year with the increased engagement from our neighbours, friends, local businesses, and media outlets ensured it was our most successful one ever.
What your giving through our 2016 Stuff the Bus Christmas Appeal achieved:
TOTAL ITEMS RECEIVED:
137,289 unique food and toy items were donated for our volunteers to pack into food hampers and wrap into toy packs.
4,769 people generously donated 16,873 volunteer hours across all our campuses in Australia to make the logistics of the campaign possible.
HAMPERS and TOY PACKS:
Total Hampers: 6,434 beautifully wrapped hampers were delivered to families and individuals to help them celebrate around a Christmas meal
Toy Packs: 10,900 were given out for mums and dads to present these gifts to their children at Christmas
We distributed our Toy Packs and Food Hampers through our church and 114 local organisations (charities, NGOs, schools, hospitals, prisons and churches across our locations.
The stories of many who have been blessed by your generosity has been pouring in and here are some we would like to share with you:
Abdul and his wife Bakara and their five children fled their hometown in Syria after ISIS invaded it. They lived in Lebanon as refugees for four years until the United Nations assisted them to come live in Australia in June 2016.
This beautiful and resilient family has experienced war, trauma and hardship that most of us have only seen, heard or read in the media. They are now starting their lives afresh in Australia, learning to speak English, going to a new school, seeking employment and finding new friends.
The generous donations to our Stuff The Bus Christmas Appeal saw the family presented with a Christmas hamper and a brand new bicycle for each of their five children. The family were so overwhelmed that they came to our services on Christmas Eve to say thank you. More than the gifts was the encouragement it gave them that there is hope and that they are loved and welcomed into this nation.
Stuff the Bus was also able to help a family in Brisbane who had gone through the trauma of domestic violence. The children experienced the horror of having to wrestle a gun out of their father’s hands to save their mother’s life. Their mum has since had to undergo multiple operations on her arm as a result of the attack. With the perpetrator now imprisoned this beautiful family are trying rebuild their lives, but as they were nearing Christmas their mum required more surgery, which meant that she would be in hospital over the Christmas period.
To help brighten their Christmas we partnered with the wonderful team at Brisbane’s 96five Family Radio to present the family with a Christmas hamper, toys for the children and some new household appliances. They grateful for the gifts and especially to know they have an incredible community supporting them through a difficult season that has impacted them emotionally and financially.
There were also many stories of gratitude from the single mum with two kids who’s struggling to put food on the table; the elderly gentleman living alone on a pension who received lovely Christmas treats in his hamper; or the parents in a season of financial stretch preparing to tell their kids that they may not be getting presents from Santa at Christmas. The standard responses from many were just amazement that total strangers would care enough to have them in their thoughts and hearts.
To every single one of you from Darwin, Noosa, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart your generosity was overwhelming – thank you!
We can never underestimate the power of giving. You have enabled us to go into the homes and hearts of hundreds of families to show they are loved and not forgotten at Christmas.