The Salvation Army Toowoomba (Qld) Corps (church) administrator Bernadette Tranter says it’s a privilege to help those in need at Christmas.
I am privileged to work in administration at our corps (church) and all through the year I watch our beautiful team, especially Erica, our community care worker, and our leaders sourcing solutions for those in need in the community.
At times such as Christmas we all pitch in as it is so busy and I feel privileged to be able to help just a little and witness the lives that are impacted.
So many factors are impacting our community, from mine closures to normal economic struggles to drought.
We see a lot of hurting people who just a few months ago were doing fine. I’ve come to see that it only takes one significant life event, such as death, sickness or tragedy, and everyday Australians are no longer able to make ends meet.
We see many struggling families, including struggling grandparents. Michael,* a grandfather, presented to the church hoping that maybe we could buy a prescription for him. Our community care worker sensed he needed more than just a prescription and took him aside for a chat.
This beautiful grandpa has custody of his grandson. He lost his wife recently in tragic circumstances and it was to be their first Christmas without her.
Ready to help: (L–R) Natalie, Erica, Bernadette and Darlene
There is joy and often tears as hampers and gifts are given out.
We arranged for his medication to be supplied and gave him gift vouchers to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and meat for his grandchild.
We also spent time listening to him, crying with him and loving him. His is one of hundreds of stories we hear every Christmas time and throughout the year.
The downturn in the mining economy and the dissolution of local, big firms have left the Darling Downs reeling and many people are now struggling to make ends meet, let alone create a Christmas celebration for those they love.
The sorrow and stress is sometimes so thick in the air you can almost see it weighing people down. At the same time, there is joy and often tears as hampers and gifts are given out.
I wish we had more to give; not only do those who are hurting need food, money, toys and their basic needs to be met—they need hope.
Our constant prayer is that as we care for others they won’t see us or the Salvos, but instead they will see Jesus meeting their needs. Our prayer is that to them, we will become invisible, and Jesus will become more visible, because in the end it is Jesus who offers true hope at Christmas and every day.
*Name and details changed for privacy
As told to Naomi Singlehurst