By Mitchell Clarke
A traditional Christmas staple is being reworked this year in a bid to give back to people in need during a tough festive season.
The advent calendar is a family favourite, but instead of receiving a little present or chocolate each day in December, locals are instead being asked to give a gift.
Members of the St James Church in Pakenham will take part in the ‘reverse advent calendar’ initiative.Participants will create their own ‘calendars’ by putting a grocery item into a box or shopping bag everyday for three weeks.
The feel-good project is being co-ordinated by reverend Kathy Mildred, who is a chaplain at Beaconhills College and is about to be ordained as a priest in the Anglican church.
Rev. Mildred said the year had been difficult for most, and many people would be facing a hard Christmas due to financial and family stress.
She came across the initiative through social media and decided to distribute the boxes to people in need throughout the Cardinia Shire.
The boxes will feature staples like pasta, cereal, tinned food and hygiene items like soap, nappies and sanitary items products.
“Little luxuries like Christmas puddings, lollies and biscuits will also be included to help spread some Christmas cheer,” Rev. Mildred said.
“Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, who taught us to feed the hungry and care for those in need. St James is an Anglican congregation devoted to spreading the good news of Jesus to all the community and loving them in His name.”
On Sunday 20 December, the bags and boxes will be blessed before they are taken to the Salvation Army in Pakenham, where they will be distributed to people in need.
“The Salvos in Pakenham stepped in to help Cardinians in need when the 4Cs closed last year,” Rev. Mildred added.
“They work tirelessly to care for the community as part of their Christian mission of compassion. St James Anglican is delighted to be able to partner with them to support the community.”