UNE spreads Christmas cheer to those most in need

Published 19 December 2008

teddybear.jpgNew England families who are struggling to make ends meet this Christmas will receive some relief from a donation made by staff at the University of New England.

UNE’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, presented a cheque for $1,100 – and 45 teddy bears – to Major Robert Duncan from the Armidale branch of the Salvation Army during an end-of-year celebration for staff at the University on Wednesday.

‘The thought of children waking up on Christmas morning without anything to open inspired UNE staff to help make a difference,’ Professor Pettigrew said.

As part of UNE’s annual Celebration of Sharing campaign, $1,100 was raised through the raffling of a 42-inch plasma-screen television set. The teddy bears were donated by staff of the Vice-Chancellor’s office. ‘One of my colleagues urged everyone to get involved, and before I knew it, a mound of stuffed toys was taking over my office,’ Professor Pettigrew said.

The donations are especially important this year, as the Salvation Army’s toy stack is low. The bears will help make up toy bags that will be given to the region’s struggling parents. ‘We will use the money donated by UNE to prepare Christmas hampers and toys for the kids,’ Major Duncan explained. ‘The hampers will include items like hams, puddings and bon-bons, so families can have a special meal on Christmas day.

‘A lot of families in need don’t put their hands up, so we are digging deeper in the cracks to find out who needs some help. There are always people struggling to cover the basics – like paying the rent. Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean these financial demands stop.’

‘We appreciate the help and support shown by UNE and the Armidale community in general,’ Major Duncan added. ‘The Salvation Army could not do what it does without this support. It’s a sign of a strong and caring community when people want to help those who are less fortunate. I’m proud to be part of such a great community.’

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show Professor Alan Pettigrew and Major Robert Duncan with the donated teddy bears.