Two single mothers who became friends after confessing their loneliness last Christmas are determined no one else will spend Christmas alone, organising a free community Christmas Day lunch at Dean hall.
Bec Hannan and Sarah Douglas unsuccessfully tried to find somewhere to volunteer on Christmas Day last year and met each other online when Sarah commented on Bec’s Facebook post.
With little family support in the area, each woman wanted to avoid spending Christmas Day alone with their young daughters so looked to volunteer their services to give back to the community and be surrounded by others.
“There was nowhere in Ballarat that was still accepting volunteers, which was disheartening for us but great for those services that so many people offered to help,” Ms Douglas said.
And so this year the women have come together to give the gift of friendship and companionship to the community and to themselves, hosting up to 150 people at their free Country Community Christmas at Dean Hall on Christmas Day offering Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, carols and games.
“It’s for anyone who needs some company on Christmas. We really thought with the country mentality of community, of being together and helping each other … it would be a great vibe holding it out of town,” Ms Douglas said.
“Dean has got a great country feel and we want people to come out and feel like they’re at a big country family Christmas with children running around, games and lots of company.”
Both women have experienced domestic violence in the past and consider they are now “doing all right for ourselves” but struggling with the loneliness of the festive season when others are spending time with loved ones.
“We’ve both got a roof over our head and our needs are met so we don’t see ourselves as fitting in the category of needing help, but it’s lonely if you don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with,” Sarah said.
“We want to make welcome other people who don’t necessarily tick all those boxes – those who want to spend time with someone. It might be an older person who doesn’t have family close by, others who have experienced domestic violence, or anyone who just wants to spend Christmas around other people.”
The women hope to host 100 to 150 people for a three course lunch, which will begin with a grazing table to encourage guests to mingle, chat and connect with each other.
The main course will be traditional Christmas fare followed by dessert.
And for fussy children there will also be a sausage sizzle if they don’t want the Christmas trimmings.
Adding to the community feel is an invitation for diners to bring a plate of food to share if they would like to, but it’s not essential.
“This will bless many vulnerable people and families in our community this Christmas who may not otherwise have enough to enjoy or be able to experience love and connection this Christmas,” she said.
“This is our way of not only giving back to the community but the community giving to us because we don’t want to be lonely and we want to help people as well.
“I can see children running around outside, playing games, having fun and being like a giant family country Christmas.”
Since launching the event the women have received many generous donations but need more to ensure there is enough for everyone, with baked goods, chocolates, Christmas pudding, boxes of fruit or vegetables, decorations. meat and Christmas hams all on the wish list alongside vouchers for major food stores so they can buy anything else needed.
Flyers dropped around Ballarat, Creswick, Daylesford and surrounds have seen the volunteer roster for the day almost full, and many companies and individuals offering donations.
To book, text your RSVP to 0403 452 449 or 0400 618 580.
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