In fact, I’m excited to share the good news with you! Christmas at my Foundation will be going ahead with more than 2,000 hot Christmas Day lunches to share. It will be a time when the most socially isolated and needy Sydneysiders rediscover the wonderful sense of togetherness that exists among our family of caring volunteers.
Of course, COVID-19 means this Christmas Day will still be different. In fact, with your support we’re preparing for every eventuality, from total lockdown to (hopefully) being fully open! Needless to say, all our guests will be kept safe thanks to social distancing and extra sanitisation. All our Christmas Day meals will be served individually. Plus, we’re ready to swing into action with any additional advice from health authorities. Nonetheless, I’m sure this Christmas Day will be filled with a cheerful air of excitement like never before.
Indeed, we are trying to make this Christmas Day as special as possible. Santa will be there for the kids and entertainers will put a smile on the faces of the grown-ups. It’s the sort of celebration we all need after enduring so much struggle and suffering over the past two years.
Last Christmas I was talking with a lonely mother. COVID-19 had kept her isolated and even at Christmas she was alone – her children spent that day with their father. “Christmas Day without you would be unbearable”, she told me. Another mother in the same situation said “I don't know how I'd cope if I couldn't come here”.
Stories like that flood my mind every Christmas. There are so many lonely people who have no where else to go on Christmas Day and no one to share it with. When I talk to them, they all tell me the same thing; how our Christmas made their day so special.
I’m also thrilled to let you know that this year the Christmas celebrations won’t be confined to our site at Ashfield. In fact, our fleet of food vans will be taking our Christmas cheer to 11 different locations across Sydney too!
From the shut-ins of Redfern to the battlers of Warwick Farm, our food vans will be sharing the spirit of Christmas. They will be loaded with ham, turkey and puddings. Not to mention presents for the kids – many of whom would otherwise miss out. It all takes a lot of planning, but with your support this Christmas, I know we can make it happen.
I am always mindful of how important our Christmas Day is to so many people. My first Christmas Day at Ashfield started with just two plates of sandwiches and a couple of lonely guests, but this year we will feed thousands. In fact it will be my fiftieth Christmas Day with the poor and homeless. That’s enough Christmas Days to last 7 weeks! My mind boggles at the thought.
Many years ago a colourful Sydney identity turned up with his teenage son on Christmas Day. They came to help. At the end of the day, long after everyone else had left, I found him in tears. He told me how, for the first time ever, his son had said he was proud of him. “That means everything to me”, he said. Sometimes our volunteers get as much joy from Christmas Day as our guests.
As my volunteers and I feed the homeless at Christmas, it reminds me of Mary, Joseph and the little baby Jesus. They were homeless too. That, to me, is a humbling realisation. There’s magic in that story and I see it here at my Foundation. Someone can come for a meal on Christmas Day and have their life changed - this year perhaps more so than ever.
That’s why I’m asking you to donate this Christmas. Together we can bring joy to the homeless, we can feed the hungry and we can be family to the lonely. Indeed, this Christmas Day is sure to be our most significant ever – a time for us all to come together again and share. So please give this Christmas, knowing it will brighten the lives of so many who have so little.
Merry Christmas and God bless
Rev. Bill Crews