Here’s how you can help Australian children in need this Christmas

Girl sleeping with teddy

Christmas is the season for giving but that doesn’t mean it has to be all about splashing money on the latest in-trend toys for our little ones.

If you’re looking for a cause where your money can make a real difference, why not consider donating to a program dedicated to helping Australian children in need?

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s Buddy Bag program provides a backpack of basic essentials to children entering emergency care.

The foundation was set up in memory of Alannah and Madeline Mikac, aged six and three, who were tragically killed with their mother and 32 others at Port Arthur, Tasmania, on 28 April 1996.

Their father launched the foundation the following year to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of children.

It now boasts programs supporting children fleeing family violence and tackling bullying, which are used in a third of all Australian schools and almost half of all Australian public libraries.

This moving video outlines the need.

What are Buddy Bags?

AMF General Manager Programs Linda Barry says Buddy Bags are backpacks full of new and essential items for children left with little more than the clothes on their backs.

“Buddy bags are a backpack we provide to children across Australia who have been either removed from home or go into emergency care,” Linda says.

“The backpack is full of new and essential items, things like toiletries, underwear, pyjamas, there might be a book, a teddy bear, things that really provide the children with a bit of sense of comfort and safety at a time of need.”

She says the program has been operating since September 2007 and has delivered more than 70,000 Buddy Bags since that time.

“We actually delivered our 70,000th Buddy Bag on Thursday,” Linda says.

But, demand for the bags continues to grow.

“The fact that there is at any time 60,000 children in emergency care is a really scary number,” Linda says.

“To know it is the really simple things that can help a child, particularly at this time of year, I think is a really nice reminder for all of us that Christmas can be a time of excess but it doesn’t have to be, we can really help children and families in need with things that are quite simple.”

Who benefits?

The Buddy Bags are given to children aged from newborns to 18-years-old and are put together based on age and gender.

“Every donation really helps lots and lots of children across Australia who really appreciate it,” Linda says.

“We get postcards back from children and, for such a simple little thing or something we might consider quite simple, the impact it has on these children’s lives is quite incredible – children who just want to say thank you for thinking of them and knowing they are important.”

Linda says such a small gesture can have a profound impact on a child.

“It shows them there are good people in the world who care about them, it provides children with some dignity and some reassurance they’re not alone,” Linda says.

“For children that are leaving and don’t have anything and the next day they have to go to school, give them a bag to take to school and it’s something to call their own.

“Quite often they leave with just the clothes on their backs so it certainly adds a lot of value to their lives.”

How can you help?

While AMF gets some government funding, majority of funding comes from donations from the general public and through trusts and foundations.

“It costs us $50 to provide one backpack so, for every $50 we are given, that is what we are able to do and deliver,” Linda says.

Donations can be made via the AMF website.

 

We would love to know what causes you support, particularly at Christmas time.

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