Heartwarming appeal helps kids through the cold

By Liam Nash

It’s almost never a good thing when the bins are full.

But if those bins happen to be jam-packed with warm winter-wear for children, it guarantees that our unbearably cold winter nights will become that little bit more bearable for some young people.

So, when Maree Chin at Goulburn Valley Pregnancy and Family Support likens pyjama donations to the community wrapping its arms safely around kids in need, she means it.

And you can’t help feeling just a little warmer yourself.

In the past five weeks the volunteer service has run a winter appeal, with the public overwhelming it with donations of tracksuits, socks, underwear and coats for children aged three to 12 years.

But Ms Chin knows the kids also need to stay warm at night.

Extending the appeal by two weeks, the call was put out to provide pyjamas and sleepwear, and again people came streaming through the door with donations.

“Bins that used to be empty are now full; we couldn’t have wished for a better result,” Ms Chin said.

“We have had about 50 sets of boys’ and girls’ pyjamas donated, as well as dressing gowns and slippers, which is just fantastic.

“They will now go into clothing packs and will be sent out to the families who need them.”

Although COVID-19 has prevented Goulburn Valley Pregnancy and Family Support from accepting second-hand clothing donations, it hasn’t dented the intake, nor left the kids vulnerable.

In fact, it has galvanised the community to go that extra mile.

“Children often get clothing second-hand from us, and we have only been taking in new clothing due to COVID-19, so it is really nice for them to receive a bundle of new clothes for winter,” Ms Chin said.

“It is a great thrill for our volunteers receiving new goods, who are then able to give them out to others.”

Ms Chin said often the older children were overlooked in donations.

But that does not mean their carers don’t need clothes for them — nor are they any less appreciative when wearables are dropped on their doorstep.

“People think we are strictly baby clothing because of our name; that is not the reality at all,” Ms Chin said.

“Often clothing for older children is more expensive, so is a great relief to mums when we are able to provide them with goods for children up to 12 years.”

It has been a mammoth effort from Goulburn Valley Pregnancy and Family Support in sorting the clothing, arranging and packaging it before sending out to families.

But they haven’t done it alone.

Ms Chin acknowledged backing from other groups and outlets had expanded the drive’s scope by broadcasting it through the community.

“Greater Shepparton Foundation has been the one who has really been driving the campaign, we would never have been able to get the reach without that support promoting it,” she said.

“The beauty of it is that more people in Shepparton know about us now. The more people who know about us, the more people who can access the service.

“We really want to thank everyone for their support.

``We hope to continue to help areas of the community who need it.”

Playing her part in the process, Greater Shepparton Foundation’s Cheryl Hammer did not have to think twice about becoming a voice for the appeal.

“I’ve become involved because this is a service that we desperately need. They do a power of work in the community,” she said.

“As a foundation our job is to build their profile and make sure locals know they are helping, and how they are helping.”

● Goulburn Valley Pregnancy and Family Support is not currently open for donations. Ms Chin said it would let the community know via Facebook when it was re-opening and accepting donations once more.