By PAUL DOBBYN
TITANS rugby league star Jamal Idris has dived in to help the Gold Coast’s St Vincent de Paul Society Christmas drive following a dramatic increase in calls to the charity from the region’s less fortunate.
His appeal came as the society’s Diocesan Central Council president Jim Donaldson reported a 25 per cent increase in calls for help this Christmas on the coast. Idris, who said he and his family received support from Vinnies when he was a child, urged Titans members and fans to help the charity make Christmas a little better for someone in need.
Mr Donaldson said St Vincent de Paul Society’s Gold Coast call centre was receiving upwards of 125 calls a day.
“It’s always hard for families at this time of year,” he said. “As well as families having to pay the usual bills, there is pressure to find money for Christmas presents, food items and toys.”
St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland state president Brian Moore said singles, families and the elderly were all calling the society for help.
“Rising costs of living are making it hard for families these holidays as they try and stretch the budget to cover rent, electricity, bills and transportation,” he said.
Rosies – Friends on the Street and Caritas Australia were among other Catholic charities helping to make Christmas a bit more cheerful for disadvantaged people in Queensland and overseas.
Rosies general manager Troy Bailey said “Christmas is one of our busiest times of the year and also one of the most rewarding”.
“We have worked hard to try and provide a little bit of Christmas cheer to our patrons, hopefully providing them with that sense of home and family which is so important at this time of year,” he said. “In December 2012, 150 volunteers supported 879 patrons who attended our Christmas On The Street in Logan, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich.
“This year again, plans are underway to provide a presence with the assistance of community organisations.”
Events Rosies are organising include a Christmas-night outreach in Brisbane starting on the evening of December 25 and a party in Queens Park, Ipswich, on December 19. Other events will be held in Cairns, Logan, the Sunshine and Gold coasts, and Toowoomba where Rosies has a presence.
Caritas Australia is asking Christians to remember the poor this Christmas by giving gifts of water, food, healthcare and education. The gifts will provide vital needs for the marginalised in the 35-plus countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, indigenous Australia and the Pacific where Caritas works.
To contribute to the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Christmas Appeal make a donation online at www.vinnies.org.au or call 13 18 14.