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Christmas rush on Vinnies services

As Advent comes to an end, many elderly people, low-income families and homeless genuinely need a hand to get over the holiday period.

Each year St Vincent de Paul receives a generous response to their Christmas Appeals; this year it expects to require more, so it's appealing for cash gifts rather than goods for hampers, which are already mostly prepared. Vinnies' resources are stretched to the limit each Christmas.

The Catholic Weekly reports that hostels such as the Matthew Talbot Hostel in Sydney are full during this time, with more than 1000 people spending Christmas lunch there. Boxing Day is also one of their busiest days of the year.

Other facilities of the Society are also extremely busy during the Christmas season, with the elderly, the unemployed and low-income families the hardest hit.

The people helped by Vinnies vary greatly at Christmas - refugees seeking asylum, the mentally ill, the unemployed, the elderly, the homeless and families in crisis.

More than 20,000 Vinnies volunteers work unflaggingly over the Christmas season in NSW (40,000 nationally) visiting thousands of destitute families and elderly people.

The last Christmas Appeal raised around $2 million in NSW and the ACT. With all of the Society's refuges expected to be full, and increasing pressure on low-income families, $2.5 million is the target for Christmas 2001.

Society of St Vincent de Paul (NSW/ACT)

Catholic Weekly