As Christmas draws near and I listen to my friends talking excitedly about their plans for special celebrations with their loved ones, and I see my daughters making long lists of gifts to buy for friends and family, I think of all those people around the world who will not experience the joy of Christmas this year.
Just in Australia, nearly 1 in every 200 citizens is homeless. That translates to around 105,000 people with no home, and one quarter of these are children. And this is in one of the most privileged countries in the world!
Homeless Assistance Services are under increasing financial pressure and are unable to cope with the numbers of people needing a roof over their heads. Recent statistics show that almost 80% of families requesting assistance are currently being turned away each day.
And Christmas, such a joyous and happy time for so many of us, is the saddest and loneliest time of year for those in need … and especially so for the children.
No child deserves be left out of the magic and hope that is Christmas!
It is such an important part of childhood to look forward to Christmas - to write a secret letter to Santa; to ask for that special something you have been wishing for and hoping for all year; to go to bed on Christmas Eve so excited that you can barely sleep; to wake up early on Christmas morning to the magic and excitement of opening a wrapped gift waiting just for you under the tree ... and then that special celebratory Christmas meal with family and friends.
Yet, for so many families battling to cope, there are just no extra dollars to provide even one small gift for their children to open on Christmas morning, let alone a celebratory meal.
And for the families without homes, even keeping their children warm and free from hunger this Christmas is impossible.
The charities and organizations set up to assist the homeless and needy are all struggling to keep up with the demand for their services. They desperately need people who care to give of their time or money in order to extend their reach over the Christmas period.
Perhaps it is up to each one of us to bring Christmas to at least one child in need this year.
It is so easy to spend just a little less on each of our very indulged children or friends, and use that money to buy something special for a homeless child.
It is also so easy to pick up the phone and pledge an amount, or purchase a gift and drop it off at one of the convenient charity offices in most cities.
It takes more effort, but it is so worthwhile to be in a position to give just a few hours of our time to help with collecting gifts, wrapping gifts, delivering gifts, or helping to prepare or serve a meal at homeless shelters over the Christmas holidays.
In fact, we should all visit a homeless shelter. We should all see firsthand how people just like you and I and their children, due to factors such as domestic violence, family breakdown, debt, unemployment and mental health, have ended up homeless and without hope this Christmas.
We should all get involved this Christmas in some way to help those less fortunate than us.
Let’s actually do it! Let’s all make a pledge to give the joy of Christmas to at least one homeless child in our city this December.
And if we are struggling ourselves and can’t afford to help, let us all remember the homeless, the poor and the needy this Christmas, if only in our prayers.