Celebrate Christmas without busting your budget

THE message coming from welfare agencies in the lead up to Christmas is for people to not celebrate beyond their means, and to consider the occasion's meaning.

Parramatta Salvation Army major Alwyn Robinson said it was easy for people who were struggling financially and emotionally to be overwhelmed by Christmas.

"I would never want to say to people don't have a big Christmas celebration, because it's a special time of year," he said.

"But also, people should try and understand that not everything has to cost a lot of money."

Mick Shea, The Smith Family's national manager for recycling, agreed with that sentiment.

He suggested shopping in charity stores was a way for people to save money but also fund services and gifts for other people who are struggling.

"We've got something for everyone in our stores," he said.

"We pride ourselves on the quality of goods, which are new or near new.

"And the benefits are two fold. You get good quality items for a bargain and the funds go back to help The Smith Family do work in the community."

Most welfare organisations, including The Salvos, The Smith Family and St Vincent de Paul Society run Christmas appeals.

St Vincent de Paul Society's NSW chief said the organisation was expecting an increase in the number of people asking for assistance.

"Australians are characterised by being generous and lending a helping hand to those people who are struggling," he said.

"The reality is that, without the support of the community, we would not be able to assist the families and individuals who turn to us each Christmas.

"The simple truth is that we need those people who can afford it to dig deep and make a donation to the Vinnies' Christmas Appeal.

"Vinnies provides financial assistance, clothing, utilities, food hampers and gifts for children."

These organisations all take donations of cash, children's toys and non-perishable foods.

People can also donate their time and volunteer to help sort and deliver donations.

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