19 December 2022

Kids in Care to put 1000 smiles on the faces of vulnerable children this Christmas

| Claire Fenwicke
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Zach and his younger sisters Lily and Annalise have donated 40 presents to Kids in Care to deliver Christmas cheer to vulnerable children. Photo: Supplied.

Ten containers stuffed full of presents are ready to be delivered across Canberra and the surrounding region, thanks to a special charity started by a police officer ten years ago.

Donations have been handed over to Kids in Care at a morning tea at Icon Water – a movement which started in December, 2013.

Board member Detective Senior Constable Alex Uren explained how Woden officer John Giles attended an incident that year, which involved four neglected children, including a baby.

“A four-year-old girl asked John if she could show him her Christmas tree, which she described to him as ‘beautiful’,” she said.

“She took him inside and what he saw was a tattered Christmas tree with not even one or two baubles and no presents underneath.”

Detective Sergeant Giles took it upon himself to pass the hat at his police station to get presents for the children.

The next year he managed to collect enough donations to buy presents for 60 children, and so Kids in Care was born.

“This year Kids in Care is at a point where we’ve been able to give 1000 children a gift of their choice to the value of $50 at Christmastime, as well as many other items and stocking fillers,” Det Snr Const Uren said.

“Christmas is a magical time for children, and Kids in Care want to make sure every child gets to experience that magic, this year and every year to come.”

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The charity has also been able to expand to give chocolate at Easter, birthday gifts and back-to-school supplies to vulnerable children, including refugees and those in emergency or crisis care.

It now also supports 24 organisations across Canberra and into Queanbeyan, Jindabyne, Cooma and Yass.

It thrives off support from business and corporate sponsors, as well as the generosity of individuals.

One person who has helped put some presents under the trees is nine-year-old Zach.

This year he was joined by his younger sisters to collect 40 presents to give to the charity.

He said it made him feel “really good” to know he was helping those less fortunate than himself at Christmastime.

“I thought maybe I should do something and I wanted to do more kind things,” Zach said.

Icon Water staff helped load the presents to be delivered across the region.

Communication and engagement manager Kellie Mastersen said they were all “so proud” to be supporting the cause.

“Whenever we put the word out to come along and join in, we’ve always got so many people across the organisation putting their hands up,” she said.

“Christmas is a special time [and we want to help] deliver a Christmas all children deserve.”

READ ALSO A Helping ACT hand for the homeless brightens their day at Early Morning Centre

While 1000 presents is impressive, ACT Policing Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said he wanted the charity to go even bigger next year.

“There’s something for little toddlers all the way up to teenage boys and girls, so that’s the beauty of it, it’s for everybody,” he said.

While the Kids in Care members can’t witness the delivery of the presents themselves due to privacy, chair Steve Hill said that wasn’t why they carried on this work.

“We know we can go to bed at night knowing we’ve been able to help one child at least, and we’ve put a smile on their face throughout the year, especially at Christmas,” he said.

“There’s always kids out there in some vulnerable situation, not just in the ACT but in neighbouring NSW, who call out for our help and we’re all too happy to help out.”

Those wishing to volunteer their time or become involved with Kids in Care are encouraged to get in touch.

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