Community urged to give generously

GIPPSLAND residents are asked to give a gift to a child in out-of-home care this Christmas and help families in need celebrate the festive season.

Berry Street has partnered with ABC Victoria to run a Giving Tree Appeal – asking for monetary donations, non-perishable food items or new presents.

“A lot of families struggle at Christmas and our aim is to help them to be able to afford maybe a few extra things at Christmas,” Berry Street Gippsland regional director Trish McCluskey said.

“We know that lots of people are struggling to buy presents, but will buy presents.

“And it means that any festivities in terms of festive food or normal groceries are compromised, because they’ve spent the money on presents.”

From newborns to 17 year-olds who might otherwise go without, the appeal allows disadvantaged families to enjoy Christmas without compromising their budget.

Ms McCluskey said every year the organisation ran the appeal, the generosity of Gippslanders astounded her.

“We live in a disadvantaged area where there’s a lot of people struggling to buy presents for their own kids,” Ms McCluskey said. “But what we also don’t hear in all those negative stats that always come out about Gippsland is that we also live in the most generous community.

“And we live in a community where people look out for each other.”

Last year’s Berry Street – ABC Giving Tree Appeal provided more than 10,000 gifts to families in need.

Drop off a gift or non-perishable food item to the Berry Street Gippsland office or any ABC shop or radio station near you by 3pm on Christmas Eve.

You can also purchase gifts or donate online at

Berry Street Gippsland is still searching for foster carers to take in a child in out-of-home care.

“We just simply do not have enough foster parents to cover the demand of placements in the region,” Berry Street Gippsland regional director Trish McCluskey said.

“And I think one of the things we get asked a lot is, ‘do you think I’m too young or too old’? Or, ‘I’m gay or I’m single or divorced’.

“Because Berry Street is an independent organisation, our view is there are so many different kids, we need so many different foster placements.

“We’ve got foster carers who are 21 and we’ve got foster parents in their 70s. And they’re doing a fantastic job.”

Phone Berry Street Gippsland on 5134 5971 or visit the office at 37 Elgin Street, Morwell for more information about becoming a foster carer.