Teenager's 'Gifts Project' means a happy Christmas for struggling families

More than 700 gifts have been donated to The Salvation Army's Crossroads West youth services, in Western Australia, thanks to the ingenuity and persistence of 17-year-old high school student, Jade Burgess.

Jade created the the 200 Gifts Project in December last year. The goal was to have 200 new and unused gifts for struggling families by this Christmas.

“The idea came to me late one night, when I was just lying awake in my bed. I was thinking about something I could do to help people in need,” said Jade, who has just graduated from Duncraig Senior High School.

“Some people go with very little at Christmas, and I have never had to experience an empty sack or very few gifts under the Christmas tree. Knowing that so many people are struggling gave me a push to take up this task. Each gift had to be new because everybody deserves something new that hasn't belonged to somebody before, so they feel worthy and appreciated.”

Jade initially used her own money to fund the drive, along with support from friends and her mother, Yvonne Hunt, who works at Crossroads West. “We hit 50 gifts in May so to reach 200 by Christmas seemed a little daunting,” she said.

But then the local community got behind the project and it began to take off. The support of Carine Girl Guides, Glengarry Primary School, Duncraig Primary School and Marmion Angling and Aquatic Club has meant that Jade has smashed her initial target of 200 gifts.

When toy distribution occurred in mid-December, more than 700 presents had either been donated or funded through donations. Ranging from toys to books, technology, cosmetics and sports equipment, Jade’s community has given struggling families the opportunity to enjoy a happy Christmas.

A keen volunteer for the Salvos since she was a child, Jade is in awe of her community’s generosity. “I was extremely surprised by the public's response but this is what Christmas is all about!”