Warilla's The DENNY Foundation has expanded its ‘12 Weeks of Christmas Giving’ initiative

Purcell family members Banjo Povea-Purcell, Matilda Povea-Purcell, Kel Povea-Purcell and Olivia Povea-Purcell with some of the hamper items, alongside Margaret Purcell and Santa on Friday. Picture: Georgia Matts
Purcell family members Banjo Povea-Purcell, Matilda Povea-Purcell, Kel Povea-Purcell and Olivia Povea-Purcell with some of the hamper items, alongside Margaret Purcell and Santa on Friday. Picture: Georgia Matts

Warilla-based charity The DENNY Foundation has again hosted its ‘12 Weeks of Christmas Giving’ initiative this year. 

Organisation co-founder Margaret Purcell said the initiative supported families experiencing extreme hardship. 

She said for a 12-week period participating Shellharbour area businesses put a non-perishable item aside each week for inclusion in Christmas hampers. 

“There’s also gift vouchers from local businesses,” she said. 

A total of ten families were chosen by the principals from four Illawarra public schools – Balarang, Barrack Heights, Warilla North and Shellharbour – to be the recipients of the large Christmas hampers.

The families were presented with the hampers at the foundation’s headquarters on Friday. 

“As a community, this is what we did,” Mrs Purcell said. “Not just The DENNY Foundation. 

“It might have been our idea, but as a community we got together and we helped ten families that really needed help.

“We’re hearing all these stories that people just aren’t coping with Christmas this year, that they can’t afford Christmas with all the bills going up.

“Hopefully next year we might be able to go to 12 families if we get enough people on board.”

Mrs Purcell and husband John founded the not-for-profit organisation. 

One of the charity’s primary events since 2011 has been their annual Christmas Day luncheon, for families experiencing hardship, long-term illness and homelessness. 

Mrs Purcell said they had decided not to host the luncheon/party this year, following her husband losing his long-time battle with prostate cancer a few weeks ago. 

“Last year we helped out two families (with hampers) as well as our Christmas party,” she said.

“This year, because my husband passed away a few weeks ago, we didn’t do the Christmas party this year. 

“We decided to do this, and we’re actually really enjoying it because we’re getting to families that really are doing it tough.

“This is his legacy. 

“On Christmas Day we’re going into the palliative care, taking parcels into the palliative care unit at Port Kembla. They were so great, they looked after him very nicely.

“I’m having a break, and we’ll have a look at it (the Christmas luncheon) next year… For this year this was what we decided to do.”