Every cent counts

Nicholas with a giving box

Nicholas with a giving box

Seven-year-old Nicholas Pyle has been saving five cent pieces for an entire year to buy a special Christmas gift for a child he has never met. Nicholas thought long and hard about which gift he wanted to buy. In the end he chose to save for his favourite books, a Roald Dahl series, so he could give it to another little boy or girl who otherwise might not get to read it. The series costs $29 at Target.

UnitingCare, a leading community service provider, is once again partnering with Target Australia in an effort to spread Christmas cheer. Shoppers are encouraged to buy gifts and make donations to help people of all ages who otherwise may not have a gift to open on Christmas morning.

The appeal, called Target and UnitingCare Giving Box (formerly Operation Santa), launched 6 November and will run until Christmas Eve. Now in its 23rd year, the appeal has distributed 1.7 million gifts to children in need across Australia.

More than 26,000 families throughout Australia benefitted from this appeal last year, and this year organisers hope to collect 100,000 gifts to support 60,000 Australian families.

The Giving Box is on display at the front of Target stores, and shoppers are encouraged to place unwrapped gifts inside or take a gift tag to make a donation at the checkout.

Stephanie Lagos, director of UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania, said Christmas was a particularly difficult time for people who are doing it tough.

“There are many families who are going to find it nearly impossible to provide a present for their children this year,” Ms. Lagos said.

“They rely on your generosity. Please support the Giving Box to ensure that all Australian families enjoy a happy Christmas this year.”

All gifts are given to people in the local community where they were donated. UnitingCare representatives will collect the gifts and ensure they are distributed to those most in need in time for Christmas morning.

Last month, when Nicholas realised he still needed a few more dollars to reach his goal in time for Christmas, he began asking for extra chores around the house, such as negotiating an extra five dollars for keeping his room tidy all week. He also watered the plants and regularly asked for more ways to earn donation money.

“My sister and I, we’ve got a lot of children’s books. I’m saving my money now so I can get presents and books for children whose parents can’t get it for them.

They should have books to read in case they get bored or if it’s bedtime. I thought the Roald Dahl series was the best. I’ve read three out of the five Roald Dahl books, and I want to share them with other children,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas has even enlisted the help of his grade one class, where he gave a presentation on the Giving Box and asked his classmates to help support the project.

“My presentation talked about the donations, and I thought that I might print up leaflets and talk to them about how I want them to help me raise money. I’ll choose if I want it in by a certain date. I’ll definitely need it in before Christmas so I can buy the books for kids who don’t have presents. I feel really sad for them because they don’t have the things I do,” Nicholas said.

His hard work and saving has paid off.

On 7 November, Nicholas went with his parents and younger sister to the Target store on Melbourne’s Bourke Street to purchase the Roald Dahl series, and his gift was the third one to go in the Giving Box this season.

“My family always has a Christmas tree and we sing songs and give presents to each other. My mum and dad can afford things that we need, but not everyone can have that,” Nicholas said.

“I want to give this gift to another child so they can be happy like I am. I want them to feel special because they got something.”

Audrey Schueren

For more information, or to donate online, visit www.givingbox.com.au

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