A Very Merry Christmas For Children In Foster Care

A Very Merry Christmas For Children In Foster Care:

The wrap up!

A million thank you’s would not be enough to thank everyone that has helped us with the Helping GC Kids Project – a project that the members of the Rotary E-Club of NextGen took on at short notice with the challenge of finding close to 800 Christmas presents for children in foster care on the Gold Coast.

We started with nothing but a group of four club members who wanted to see this happen but without any real idea of how to make it work. We were meant to get the project underway in early September but couldn’t achieve this for a number of reasons and didn’t really start until mid-October so it is really satisfying to see that on handover on the afternoon of 15 December, we did deliver all but 15 presents! It wasn’t obvious on the day that we were short as we had so many presents coming from so many sources in the last 24 hours but there is not one child in foster care on the Gold Coast that missed out as these were covered over the next few days.

The highlight for us was definitely delivering the presents to the staff at the Department of Communities, Child Safety & Disability Services. They were so delighted to come down and help us unload three cars with presents that we had collected from various sources but they were overwhelmed when we told them that there was a truck still to come with a further 500 presents. Their joy was unbelievable and it made it all so worthwhile.

What an achievement!

There were four Club members at the start of the project and it could not have happened without the support and hard work of Kaye Titmarsh (who looked after the fantastic photos on Facebook), Ingrid Jewson (who looked after the website design and was fabulous at collecting gifts from a number of community centres) and Stewart Hase (who looked after contact with the media, other Rotary clubs and who also organised the connection to the community centres where we collected so many of the presents). As time progressed though, there was more support through the club – Dai Mason organised for Ray White Paddington to collect presents on our behalf which was great, Heather Yarker and Rick Jewson (who also helped with the website design) came shopping which was fun, Tara Little (for helping us to sort through the presents that we had collected) and Ian Yarker (who along with Heather) came to the presentation afternoon tea which was such an awesome event.

Outside of the club, the support was enormous.We had support from:

• Fellow Rotary Clubs from the area and we say thank you to the Parkwood Rotary, Rotary Ashmore, Broadbeach Rotary Club and Southport Rotary Club

• The Apex Club of Southport through Scott O'Donnell•

A grant from Mayor Tom Tate

• Cash donations from Sky Swift, Stewart Hase, Andy Rajapaske, Helen Cleal, Elva Fitzel, Susan Donnelly, Renee Garske, Lindsay Abbott, Brian Gill, Tony Casey and Ilona Teremi. 

• Gift Cards from Rhonda Whitton and Jane Loxton

• Presents from so many people that were left at Helensvale Library Community & Cultural Centre, Southport Community Centre, Nerang Bicentennial Centre, Robina Community Centre, Ormeau Community Centre, and Studio Village Community Centre that was organised through another Rotarian – Bronwyn Lacy. The assistance from the staff at these centres was great and contributed to the success of the project. We also collected gifts at the Healthy Lifestyle Club at Bundall who are so involved in youth projects through Men of Business program and special thanks go to Marco and Kamila. 

• Our friends who donated gifts• Kmart Helensvale who not only provided us with two shop assistants to help (one was the store manager) but discounted the retail price of everything that we bought from them and then delivered 17 shopping trolleys worth of goods to the Department of Community Services to save us the hassle of transporting them so thank you Scott. 

• Help from Westfield Helensvale who were just so great to deal with and were prepared to provide us as much help as we needed to reach our goal. In the end, we only needed 15 presents and they came to the party without hesitation so thank you Fiona. Thank you also for the backpacks, colouring books and Frisbees. 

• Help from some smaller retailers who threw in some extra gifts as well when they found out what we were buying for. This included Jarrod from the Amcal Chemist at Helensvale and Rebel at Robina

• We had Santa teddies from all over the place including from the Knitting Club and the many other volunteers 

• We had promotion through Friday Flyer in more than one edition of their magazine and on their Facebook page. GC Confidential and 98.1 The Breeze also helped promote the event on their Facebook page.

I know that I must have left someone off the list to thank and I do apologise. It has been a whirlwind of a project that has been so rewarding but there is one last person that I have to thank and that is Kathy who did so much behind the scenes with collecting boxes, photocopying, collecting presents, came shopping and for spruiking about the project to all who would listen. Thank you Kathy.

And just in closing, I have received an email from Kristie at Department of Communities Services that reads in part “The kids have all been ecstatic with the presents provided (some couldn’t wait until Christmas to open them) and I am yet to hear of any young person who has not totally loved their gift. I guess that goes to show how awesome your buying skills / toy present choices”.

Bruce Rogers


Rotary e-Club NextGen