By Gabriella Vukman
Where Christmas day can pose a significant struggle for some, the Holy Fools organisation tackles this issue, providing an event and support on Christmas day.
Commencing at 12pm on December 25, for the ninth year in a row, Holy Fools is hosting a Christmas lunch, open to anyone in need for some socialisation, food and Christmas Spirit.
Run in conjunction with organisations such as Tasty As and the Coldstream Brewery along with donations, volunteers and good will, this Christmas lunch will take place at the St Patrick’s community Hall in Lilydale.
Hampers are also provided and handed out at the Lunch on Christmas day.
Founder and CEO of Holy Fools Inc Neal Taylor said, “The lunch is open to anyone but we really encourage those who are going to be isolated, who have got no family and we specifically invite the homeless to it.”
Initially run by the vineyard church before they lost their building, the need for support during Christmas time was recognised and taken on board by Holy Fools who continued the Christmas day lunch tradition.
Mr Taylor said, “we have lots of good healthy food and Santa comes with presents for the kids.”
“We play a trivia game. Then there’s some amazing desserts and then everyone gets a hamper before they leave, “Mr Taylor said.
“Those Christmas hampers also go to not only those who attend the Christmas lunch but also to a bunch of eight other different organisations.”
Having taken place on Christmas eve for the past three years due to COVID, Mr Taylor thought it would be good to go back to the original Christmas day event this year.
Each year volunteers are required to set up, serve and pack down the Christmas lunch. Registration and a working with children’s check are required in order to volunteer. Check the Holy fools website below for more details.
Mr Taylor said, “we are going to be setting up on Christmas eve from about 5 until 7pm.”
“We go in there, set the tables up, decorate the place, get the food ready in the kitchen and then basically Christmas day most people can celebrate with their families and we rock up at about ten o’clock and get ready for all our guests to arrive,” Neal said.
Donations for the hampers that are handed out on Christmas day are greatly appreciated and can be dropped off at the Holy Fools arc, located in the undercover car park at Chirnside Park Shopping Centre or dispersed among the purple bins situated in the Lilydale area.
Hamper donations are accepted anywhere from now until December 15. Guidance on what to donate can be found on the Holy Fools website.
Mr Taylor said, “we realise that the period of time between Christmas and new years tends to be when a number of agencies are closed down.
“We’re closed down for that period of time as well and so the Christmas hampers are designed to meet some of the needs of people but there’s also some joy in there too,” Mr Taylor said.
“We try and make it as festive as possible with lollies and even Christmas pudding but also nutritionally suitable for that week.”
This year, the aim is to hand out 300 hampers as has been achieved in previous years.
“We share these hampers with other organisations. We share them with as many groups as we can because we know that the need is just so great and a number of other organisations just don’t have the resources to do this,” Mr Taylor said.
Seeing as organised and packed into special boxes, it is important that donations are suitable and can fit.
“Some materials are also way too huge to go in the box.”
The Christmas lunch hosts around 130 guests from the local community with others coming from far and wide to be a part of the event whether it is for support or company on Christmas day.
Mr Taylor said, “we get people who are just there for the food but there are also a lot of people who are just there for the company.”
“One lady even commented to us that she woke up on Christmas and was going to do some gardening work just to while away the day and she realised that she really needed to be with someone. She knew about our lunch, came and had a ball, meeting other people, eating good food and having a laugh.”
“And said that the day was much brighter than what she originally planned,” Mr Taylor said.
“We hear that story a lot where people who just come looking for a bit of that festive spirit.”
For more information on volunteering and in general visit the Holy Fools inc website at: