RISING poverty on the Border has led an Albury church to revive the Christmas hamper service it abandoned 25 years ago.
The River Church has already won the support of Lavington’s Shepparton Cannery store, Albury Wholesale Chickens and Pinners Refrigeration but is appealing for help in cash and kind from other businesses and the wider community.
Free Christmas hampers will complement the Foodshare service the church started a year ago to help families faced with a critical shortage of funds through unemployment, ill health and heavy power bills.
George Madders is co-ordinating the project for the church as he did for eight years until 1987 when the church in David Street was called the Church of Christ.
Albury has since grown by about 10,000 people but Mr Madders and Pastor Graeme van Brummelen said the levels of poverty had also grown, especially in the past year or two.
About 70 Albury families a week are being helped by Foodshare, while the Uniting Church offers a similar service in Wodonga.
“We’ve had 21 new families come in for help from Foodshare this week,” Mr van Brummelen said.
Mr Madders said while the 1987 hampers had cost about $7000, he estimated the need now was $20,000.
“We are starting from scratch,” he said.
“Other agencies such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army help people but there’s nothing on a city-wide scale at Christmas so we are going to do it.
“We’ll have a ‘Love Your Neighbour’ hampers appeal and will be talking to the others agencies as well.”
Mr Madders said hampers would be sent to those who registered or were nominated through the church.
Mr van Brummelen said the idea was to help disadvantaged people have Christmas as a special time despite being short of money.
Recipients need not be on welfare benefits as he was aware there were many “working poor” whose low-pay was insufficient to cover mortgage or rental costs and all the other household expenses.
People interested in helping the hamper appeal or those who wish to register for hampers can contact The River Church in David Street, Albury.