A BIG pink pig is helping James Kavanagh and about 90 other special-needs children and their families through tough times.
James, 11, of Warrnambool, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at three months of age and has required high-care support from his family and medical agencies.
His mother Grace came across the giant plastic pig last year when it visited Warrnambool as the fund-raising promotional tool for Very Special Kids (VSK) which helps about 830 families across Victoria who have a child with a life-threatening condition or illness.
This year the piggy bank appeal has a $1 million target to continue support services and operate Victoria's only children's hospice which is based in Malvern.
One of the three-metre-high pigs will be in Portland on September 11 and Warrnambool on September 12 with VSK representatives.
For Mrs Kavanagh, her husband and two other children the charity has been a godsend.
"Without the hospice we wouldn't get a break from the demands of care," she said.
"It's a fantastic service and enabled us to take a holiday.
"James has been down to the house a few times he loves it and the other kids there.
"They (VSK) have specialists who look after a range of kids, some in their last stage of life. The nurses and volunteers are fantastic.
"I'd encourage anyone who sees the pig to make a donation because all money goes to a good cause."
VSK chief executive Dr Sarah Hosking said services ranged from a child's diagnosis to recovery or bereavement.
"Without generous donations from communities we would not be able to offer much-needed services to these brave families," Dr Hosking said.
The pig will be in Portland outside the Commonwealth Bank from 10am to 1pm and outside the Gordon Hotel from 6pm-8.30pm. In Warrnambool it will be outside the Commonwealth Bank from 10am to 3pm and at Mac's Hotel from 5pm-8pm.