The Armidale Youth Refuge Christmas Joy Drive is collecting donations for homeless people

CHRISTMAS JOY DRIVE: Armidale Youth Refuge mentor Laban Burgess and Armidale Ex-Services staff member Troy Gale.
CHRISTMAS JOY DRIVE: Armidale Youth Refuge mentor Laban Burgess and Armidale Ex-Services staff member Troy Gale.

FOR people that have been called hopeless their entire lives, the impact a gift can make is astounding.

The Armidale Youth Refuge Christmas Joy Drive is on again this year, to donate presents to homeless people in the community.

Refuge mentor Laban Burgess said 90 per cent of his clients have depression.

“It’s really hard, they’re struggling all the time,” Mr Burgess said.

“Young people experiencing homelessness are continuously told they aren’t good enough.

“For someone to turn up and show that they care enough to give them a present and tell them to have a nice day has a huge impact.”

The organisation serves young people aged 16 to 24.

They run early intervention programs, rapid rehousing, complex needs and crisis accommodation.

Most of the clients Mr Burgess works with live in unstable housing, often moving from lounge to lounge.

“The largest causes of homelessness are domestic violence and mental health problems,” he said.

“Lots of people have come from families where you might not get presents for Christmas – some of them never did.

“The concept of this tree is to get together a bunch of presents for them and deliver them on Christmas.”

Any gifts that don’t go to clients will be donated to the Children’s Ward at Armidale Hospital.

“For someone to turn up and show that they care enough to give them a present and tell them to have a nice day has a huge impact,” Mr Burgess said.

Gifts can be donated to the Christmas Joy Drive tree at the Armidale Ex-Services Club.

Presents should be designed for men and women aged 16 to 24.

Wrapped gifts should include a tag with a description of the item, so it can be thoughtfully given to youth refuge clients.

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