No matter which way you slice it, 2020 has been a challenging year. That is why the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal will be launching earlier than ever to serve its biggest demand in history.
National research conducted by YouGov (September 2020) revealed that more than 4 in 10 Australians (41%) have been negatively financially impacted by COVID-19.
The effects of the pandemic, coupled with the devastating bushfires earlier this year, has caused mass suffering across the nation. That is why the Appeal, with founding charity partner The Salvation Army, is expected to be needed more than any other year in its 33-year history.
The Appeal has already commenced (Monday, October 19) and will conclude on December 24, 2020.
One Australian community member who has leant on the services of The Salvation Army for the first time ever following the impacts of the pandemic, is Alex.
In April 2019, life was happy and secure for Alex and her husband Jack. Recently married, with a baby on the way, and a fantastic job in events, Alex was caught off guard when she started going into labour at just 30 weeks.
“I didn’t know what was happening. It was so stressful and traumatic. My son had to stay in hospital for a few months and he nearly died. Later he had reflux and complications. I went into a spiral and experienced what I now know to be post-natal depression. It was really tough.”
After taking additional time off work to care for her son and slowly build her confidence through a local mother’s group, Alex was excited to be heading back to her job when Covid-19 hit.
“I lost my job, and so did my husband who works in hospitality. It wasn’t what we had planned for or were expecting.”
Despite support via JobKeeper, Alex and her husband struggled to keep up with their bills and living expenses, which increased during the winter months. So, she reached out to The Salvation Army for help.
“I’ve never been in a situation like this before. I have always worked and been very frugal. I’m not someone who gets their hair and nails done. I don’t drink very often or have a credit card. But we just couldn’t pay the bills.
“My case worker guided me through the process and I was also able to pick up some care packs of fruit and vegetables.
“The help was just massive. I felt so grateful.”
For many Australians, the impact of Covid-19 has been devastating and far-reaching, with many more families reaching out for support and assistance than ever before. As Christmas approaches, gifts and toys and items that give so much job, will be difficult to buy and lead to further stress and anxiety on top of an already difficult year.
However through the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal, Australians can help many others in the community who, like Alex, are in need of additional support this Christmas.
“Children love anything to build, magnetics and things that spark the imagination and Kmart has everything at an affordable price for all different ages. Even the smallest thing can make such a difference” Alex said.
With her husband now picking up shifts a few days a week, Alex is hopeful that she too will soon be able to return to work.
Though Christmas will be modest and quieter than previous years, 2020 has brought with it a chance to reflect and be grateful for the health of her son and the kindness of others.
Alex is unfortunately not the only one to experience financial hardship this festive season following a challenging year.
However, thanks to the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal there is a way we can help.
How to contribute to the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal
- Choose a practical gift that will go beyond Christmas time and leave it under the Wishing Tree in store at Kmart.
- When shopping in store at Kmart, click the Wishing Tree logo on the self-serve checkout to add to a transaction or drop a gold coin into a collection box at the registers.
- Donate online by scanning a Wishing Tree QR code that will be found in store at Kmart or via the Appeal’s website.
The Appeal began in 1987 as an initiative to provide convenient gift collection points to assist charity groups at Christmas and beyond.
Since then it has grown into the largest and longest running gift collection in Australia and New Zealand.
The generosity of those who are willing to give where they can has helped the Appeal raise more than 8 million gifts for people doing it tough, with close to 400,000 gifts being collected and nearly $300,000 in funds every year.