Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year for many, but for some children it is another day spent with another stranger.
Every year Belinda Doorey and her family, who live in Parkes, always try to give back at Christmas, be it donating a gift, or dressing up as Santa and elves and handing out lollies to kids in the community.
But this year, Belinda wanted to do something different, something more.
She wants to bring Christmas to children who will be living in out-of-home care, such as a motel, on and around Christmas Day.
When Belinda told her good friend, Jasmyne Symington - who is her nail technician and happened to be doing her nails at the time - what she wanted to do, Jasmyne didn't hesitate hopping on board.
With Jasmyne's help, Belinda set up a charity group and Facebook page called Community Christmas 2020, and their focus is delivering gifts to our most vulnerable children in the Central West.
"A lot of us are very blessed to be able to spend the festive season with our family and friends, but as we're all sitting around the table enjoying Christmas together, you have this little soul who doesn't get to spend Christmas with their mum or dad, their brother or sister, or their grandmother or grandfather," she said.
"Some children wake up with no Christmas tree, not to mention the excitement of opening Christmas presents.
"Basically this (cause) is about children in our local area and the Central West being housed at organisations over and on Christmas due to a family break-down and situations beyond their control.
"There are multiple children in the Central West living in out-of-home care."
Belinda said many people think 'out-of-home' means they're still in a foster home or with another family.
"But no these kids are with an organisation," she said.
"These children spend a lot of time away from their families and go years without contact with their siblings.
"They go into care for months and they don't know what's going on, and they spend Christmas with a case worker.
"Some of these children have lived very tough lives and the trauma never goes away, it doesn't matter how old they are.
"Every year we donated a gift to the Target Giving Tree but we don't have a Target anymore, so that's what prompted this idea.
"Obviously you can't change the world and every situation, but if we can do something for the Central West... Let's give these kids the best Christmas we possibly can."
Belinda and Jasmyne are turning to as many communities in the Central West as they can, asking people to donate a small gift for these children.
"We know 2020 has been a tough year for so many, but please remember it's not about the price, some kids would be so happy to receive a $5 colouring-in pack," Belinda said.
"It's the smallest and simplest of things that bring joy to these kids' lives.
"I have contacted Family and Community Services who are on board and fully support this."
Belinda said they have already had an overwhelming response from people in Parkes.
"ANZ has jumped on board, they've given up their Christmas party to donate their funds to us," she said.
"That really touched me.
"And we had these young girls, who don't even have jobs, make up some gift bags, all given out of their pocket money.
"I wasn't sure how well this would go, especially given how tough everyone is doing it with Covid-19 and all."
Belinda wanted to particularly thank Jasmyne for all of her help with the cause.
"She's very passionate about this too and she's super busy as it is - she's running a business and she has two small children, I take my hat off to her," she said.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Belinda and Jasmyne are asking communities to donate a small gift, wrap it, write the age and gender on it, and take it to one of the allocated drop-off businesses in Parkes (see below).
If you're not in Parkes, gifts can be dropped off at any nearby Family and Community Services (FACS) centre by calling ahead first, or you can contact Belinda on 0421 750 396.
The gifts will be collected and delivered like Santa to the children in the Central West who are spending Christmas with an organisation.
They also have bank account details available for anyone who would like to donate money and they can organise gifts.
The business drop-off locations are:
- Family and Community Services.
- Sleek Hair Design.
- ANZ Parkes.
- Cooke Park Takeaway.
- Neighbourhood Central, Currajong Street, Parkes.
- Kerin Physio Co.
"If anyone would like to help or donate in any way, we would really appreciate it," Belinda said.
The Community Christmas cause will be running until the last week of Christmas.