The spirit of giving means the world to those in need, says Major Peter Wood.
The Warrnambool Salvation Army officer launched the annual Christmas Appeal this week, thanking those donating this season.
He said there were many in the south-west who struggled just to keep a roof over their heads.
“The Salvation Army will support over 400 Warrnambool families troubled and at risk over Christmas and New Year,” Maj Wood said.
“These families might cope during the year but miss out on the extra special things that just aren’t possible,” he said.
Maj Wood said it was only through generous donations that the charity was able to provide assistance, food hampers and toys.
“People really struggle to have the basic luxuries that we might have – like going out for a coffee – when all their money is taken up with the basics,” he said.
“(They) don’t have the capacity to celebrate the seasons of life.”
He said the charity would often “wonder where (everything they needed) was going to come from”, relying on “good faith” that it would come.
The launch of the Christmas Appeal coincides with Give Now Week, which runs until December 4.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission reported the Salvation Army was one of 54,000 registered charities across Australia, playing “an essential role in our society” and accounting for more than $6 billion in annual donations.
Further research revealed that two-thirds of Australians donated to charities and not-for-profits with the majority giving to those they trusted most.
“We’re very privileged to be in a position for the public to trust us and we don’t take that lightly,” Maj Wood said.
He said the generosity of strangers was overwhelming to those who needed a “leg up”.
“They’re really touched that people would think of someone else at this time of year,” Maj Wood said.
“This support gives hope when it’s needed most.”
As “the Salvos get ready for Christmas”, Major Wood said it would receive gifts at the Thrift Shop on Lava street or under the Kmart Wishing Tree at Gateway.
South-west residents can also donate to the Salvation Army Office or to a collector.
“We are playing and collecting at the traffic lights this Saturday (December 3),” Maj Wood said.
“We wish to thank the Warrnambool community for their ongoing support, without which many people would not have a happy Christmas.”
Visit salvationarmy.org.au for more information.