Charity tree returns

Kate Withers

With the festive season fast approaching, the Latrobe Valley Express has once again adorned its charity tree and is ready to spread cheer for those who need it most.

Features manager Lesley Hogan said she was “gob-smacked” by the community generosity shown last year in the inaugural Christmas gift drive for Berry Street.

Last year was the first year and it was amazing, absolutely amazing,” Ms Hogan said.

“The response from the general public was just honestly mind-blowing and everyone commented about how beautiful the tree was when they came in, which is lovely.

“Berry Street were just over the moon and couldn’t believe how many gifts we had and people were just so generous.”

Ms Hogan said more than four carloads chock-full of gifts for children in need were carted away from beneath The Express charity tree last year.

“It was honestly just incredible the amount of gifts Berry Street happily took away,” she said.

“The Express has been delighted to be able to give back to the community, as well as other community members giving to the less fortunate as well.

“Times are tough and we all hear that, but the generosity of people is still just amazing.”

Ms Hogan said the idea for the charity tree spawned a few years ago one Christmas morning as presents were being unwrapped by the dozen.

“I’d been thinking about it for a number of years, about having a charity Christmas tree here, and I guess when my grandies opened up their presents at home and it just was gob-smackingly humongous the amount they got,” she said.

“At the time, I thought ‘do you know, we could probably give every child in Churchill one of these presents and it wouldn’t go astray’.

“That year that for whatever reason it clicked and just hit me, and I was thinking about all those little mites who, for one reason or another, aren’t as fortunate as my own and lots of others out there.”

The Express’ charity tree is up and running for another year, waiting to be surrounded by gifts for those who may otherwise go without this Christmas.

“I’m hoping we have just as much success as we did last year,” Ms Hogan said.

“There really are no restrictions as far as presents go and anything is very much appreciated. Ideally not pre-loved gifts, ideally new, but whatever people can afford is just generous.

“All we ask is that presents are tagged as to whether they’re for a boy or girl and what age group they’re appropriate for.

“You can put them in a bag, wrap them, or I’ve got tags and wrapping paper here … I’m just a softie so anything we can do to help is appreciated.”

The Latrobe Valley Express giving tree is located in the front office at 21 George Street, Morwell.

Gifts will be accepted until Thursday, December 12 before they are donated to Berry Street on December 13.

For more information, contact 5135 4444.