A COMMUNITY call is out for 'elves' to help source items to make up special gifts for teenagers most in need this Christmas.
YMCA Ballarat is focusing its annual Boxes of Joy campaign on young people aged 12 to 17 in a bid to boost happiness this coming festive season.
Volunteers and YMCA staff piece together donated items in decorated shoe boxes for recipients across the region, who might need a bit extra support.
YMCA Ballarat community and youth engagement manager Stacey Oliver said teenagers tended to miss out in gift donations and this was a way to help ensure there was something to add some sparkle to their Christmas, too.
"When we deliver the boxes, their response is so heartwarming," Ms Oliver said. "They're really grateful for what we can give them."
Ms Oliver encouraged creativity for gift ideas, like puzzles, card games like Uno, or colour therapy books with pencils.
YMCA has a focus on healthy living and also aims to include items for active play like a rubber ball, Frisbees, bubbles or games promoting a chance for families to connect and play together.
Personal hygiene gifts, such as deodorants or body sprays for boys and girls, can be handy. Ms Oliver said it was often tough for teenagers who might not have access to the brand-name products so many of their peers use at school.
YMCA is collecting donated items from now through to the end of the first week in December. Volunteers and staff will start packing boxes on December 7.
This is YMCA's fifth year running the Boxes of Joy campaign. Ms Oliver said each year's collection drive had exceeded expectations, including enough goods last Christmas to make up 159 boxes.
Each box will contain about eight to 10 items, evenly mixed up.
A group of Phoenix Community College year 12 students have already made a collection as part of a class project.
"It's exciting to see so many people getting behind the campaign in the previous years and providing items that create a special gift for someone who needs some joy," Ms Oliver said.
"We are so moved by the generosity of the Ballarat and wider community and greatly appreciate all donations."
Present boxes are distributed via welfare agencies to nominated recipients. Ms Oliver said schools and kindergartens can also act as agencies in putting forward names of families they feel need the support.
Donated items can be dropped off at the YMCA's new office in Barkly Square.
For more: ballarat.ymca.org.au or call 4311 1500.
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