Spreading the festive cheer

For more than 20 years Samaritans have been hosting their Christmas luncheon for often more than 1,000 less fortunate, homeless and lonely people living in the Newcastle region.

People from all walks of life come together to celebrate Christmas, to bring hope and joy to vulnerable people in our community, help families living with disadvantage and to welcome those without friends or family to share the festive season.

Samaritans enjoy the support of around 250 big-hearted volunteers in Newcastle whose focus is to bring people together in times of need. Samaritans gives their help unconditionally with care and respect, empowering individuals to build their resilience and find their place in the community.

In its usual outdoor setting in the Newcastle Foreshore Railway Sheds, people enjoy Christmas Day with a delicious Christmas lunch, entertainment, a visit from Santa and of course gifts for both children and adults.

Port Waratah has a long-standing relationship with Samaritans as a major sponsor of the Christmas Lunch In The Park, providing essential funding for equipment, food and supplies, as well as a number of Port Waratah volunteers to help set up for this important event.

When COVID-19 ruled out the usual sit-down lunch in 2020 and 2021, Samaritans were able to pivot to deliver Christmas Lunch to the community in a new way.

In 2020, an “Express Christmas Lunch” was provided in the park, similar to a take-away service, for those in need.  Guests were able to present to the event, receive the usual delicious Christmas Lunch take away style with gifts from the smiling and dedicated volunteers.

Christmas Day in 2021 delivered a “Picnic Lunch In The Park” allowing families to enjoy a picnic style lunch on one of the many colourful picnic blankets that were once again socially distanced on the foreshore lawn.  Christmas lunch with all of the trimmings, gifts and Christmas spirit were all on offer in a socially distanced, COVID-safe way.

Samaritans Christmas Lunch In The Park Coordinator Dana Pichaloff said with the support of Port Waratah it was possible to deliver a COVID-19 safe activation where a delicious lunch and a gift was provided to more than five hundred families in our community.

“This was the only activation of its type in the region and was recognised by the whole community and in particular those that needed it the most,” Dana said.

“Thank you, Port Waratah – you are, and will always be, appreciated.”

passionate volunteers
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