Mission Australia’s Christmas Lunch in the Park returns to bring festive cheer to Perth’s most vulnerable this Christmas. For almost 50 years, Christmas Lunch in the Park has provided a place for everyone to come together for a great lunch, some company and free entertainment. This year the event is set to serve its 70,000th meal but to make this possible, over 320 volunteers are needed.
Sue Budalich, the State Director at Mission Australia WA, said more than 1200 guests are expected to come to Wellington Square on Christmas Day and Santa is rumoured to be making an appearance with gifts. However, lots of volunteers are still needed to help organise and carry out the festive event.
The day involves more than just providing a delicious meal, care packs containing non-perishable food and personal care items are also prepared for each guest to help in the days after Christmas when most places are closed. “There’s an opportunity to connect people with support services that may help and our Wellness Zone has showers and clothing available for those who need it,” Ms Budalich said.
If you can’t volunteer on the day, there are still plenty of ways to help. “People can help us make a difference by ‘Donating a Plate’ online where a donation of just $100 can provide Christmas lunch, gifts and care packs for a family of four,” Ms Budalich added. “You can also organise your own fundraising event such as a walk-a-thon or morning tea through our secure Website.”
Kelmscott local Adrian Bailey is one of many who have previously received a care package. Around 10 years ago, Adrian was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This combined with other health issues resulted in a financial struggle that left him homeless.
“Life on the street was hard, I moved around a bit between Fremantle, Northbridge and Gosnells,” he said. “Then one day one of my friends invited me to Christmas Lunch in the Park and I had a wonderful time.”
Adrian remembers attending at least five Christmas Lunches in the park before he managed to turn his life around. “I didn’t want to be on the street anymore and was very lucky to find a place,” he said. Now, he wants to give back to others who are in the same position he was in. “I want people to know it does get better and there is hope.” Last year, Adrian volunteered for the first time as a Table Host, someone who ensures guests feel welcome.
If you can volunteer this Christmas, registrations are now open and close on November 15. If you can’t make it but still want to help, donate or fundraise for this year’s Christmas Lunch in the Park.
For more information head head to the Christmas Lunch in the Park Website.