Too early for Christmas? Not for a host of very special kids who find the hustle and bustle of December overwhelming. Field & Game Australia stepped in to provide all the Christmas trimmings in August in the peaceful setting of Willowmavin.
We can all remember the childhood thrill of going to see Santa, usually at a busy shopping center.
When you finally made it through the line, the store buzzing around you with noise, your mum would get you and your siblings lined up, smiling with Santa for a treasured family photo.
The reality for many families with special needs children, is that they don’t get to enjoy that experience. The line is too long, the noise is too overwhelming, the chaos of the December period is sometimes too much for the children.
Lauri Rowe, Head of Administration and Events at Field & Game Australia was determined to find a better way.
“It broke my heart when I was told,” Lauri said.
And out of this determination grew the Field & Game Australia’s community event, Christmas for the Kids.
The first of what Lauri hopes will be an annual event for these children was held at our Willowmavin property near Kilmore.
35 special needs children were invited from Seymour College to come and enjoy the day, with activities set up for them including meeting and speaking with Santa.
There were volunteers on hand throughout the day alongside the teachers in order to make sure the children had a fantastic time and left with the all important photo with Santa.
The day was officially opened by Rob Mitchell MP Federal Labor Member for McEwen before the kids boke off into groups to enjoy the activities.
“I’m proud with what we’ve achieved. It’s been a huge success,” Lauri said.
“The kids were so excited when they found out,” teachers assistant Jess Barwell said.
Dean O’Hara, CEO of Field & Game Australia, said the event could not have happened without the support of volunteers and sponsors.
“The community got right behind us. I really can’t thank our sponsors and supporters enough,” Dean said.
Sponsors included The Elm’s Retirement Village, McPherson Media Group, both Seymour Woolworths and Seymour Coles, CVGT Australia, Bendigo Bank, Marsh Insurance, and Rotary Kilmore.
The Country Fire Authority brought a fire truck, entertaining the children with the fire hose and letting them climb up on the vehicle.
More than a few of the delighted kids claiming they couldn’t wait to be fireman as they rushed past Santa and their teachers in excitement.
Their smiles could not get wider as they all sat down around Santa and each received a gift, containing a hand knitted beanie created by Seymour Haberdashery and a book.
When asked about the best wish Santa chuckled, “There was a request for 10 X-Boxes, so they could be shared around with friends.”
“This is a small gesture, but it is just another example of how we support our local communities” Dean O’Hara said.
It may be a small gesture, but it’s given these families a photograph that they will treasure, and the kids a fun day out.