In December’s Village Voice, our member Jan Forbes wrote about our inaugural Christmas Appeal, which involves asking the local community to donate gifts to those less fortunate in the area. We have received such generous support from fellow residents.

We initially set up a donation point at our main hub at the Mount Colah shops, namely the Mount Colah Pharmacy & Post Office, and soon Galley Foods Eatery at Bobbin Head Marina came on board too. And although I am very much on “Team Mount Colah”, I spend a lot of time around Asquith as well, so I took Jan on a walk around Asquith shops to also drum up support there. A number of Asquith businesses were only too happy to display our promotional flyers, and the amazing physio practice I go to, Dynamic Motion Physiotherapy & Exercise Physiology at Asquith, agreed to become another donation point.

The Friends of Mount Colah thought long and hard about how best to distribute the donated gifts to locals in need. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we decided to liaise with a local charity group who had established networks in the area. With us being a group that aims to link up residents with other local organisations, this became a great opportunity to get to know who else shares our common interest in promoting community spirit and wellbeing.

We soon came across Hornsby Connect, which aims to unite the Hornsby population to provide assistance to those less fortunate. They provide a safe community hub at Hornsby Leisure & Learning Centre with a “hand up” approach, offering a food distribution point every Wednesday from 12 to 2pm. Jan and I attended their launch and met Steve Hopwood and Ralph Estherby, and they were pleased to have Hornsby Connect as the main recipient of the 2016 Friends of Mount Colah Christmas Appeal.

We have had such a positive response, with lots of donations coming in. Locals have said it’s a good initiative bringing out the community spirit in people and drawing attention to financial and emotional hardships experienced by some in the community. One lady donated a bike, cricket set, golf set, and water balloon filler, saying that she was lucky to have presents like that growing up and wanted others to have a happy experience at Christmas time too.

_____________________________________________________________________Mariko Smith is the Chairperson of Friends of Mount Colah. Usual blurb about FOMC

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