AWNY Holiday Helpers at Sanctuary for Families

by Peta Arthurson

On Monday 8th, six AWNY members volunteered their morning to be Holiday Helpers for the Sanctuary for Families charity in lower Manhattan. We caught up for a cup of coffee beforehand to meet and get to know one another.

Of course, the first two questions Aussie’s always want to know are: Where are you from? and, How long have you been here?! Collectively we hailed from Sydney & Melbourne and the length of stay ranged from 18 months to 6 weeks. And yes, the six weeker is still a little shell-shocked, and we were all full of helpful advice!

Sanctuary for Families provides domestic violence victims, sex trafficking victims, and their children with a range of comprehensive services.

The holiday season can be a difficult time for domestic violence victims and their families. For the most at need, SSF have an “Adopt a Family” program. Sanctuary staff members nominate families that are the most in need during the holiday season. Family “wish-lists” are completed by donors who deliver the gifts just in time for the holiday break.

We were part of a team helping to sort these wonderful donations, as well as wrap and label these gifts ready for the SFF teams to deliver them to their clients next week.

In another room, we organized the general gifts into various ages, sex and style of present. These gifts are left unwrapped and available for the SSF staff to come in and select the best suited gifts to the children and their mom’s so that everyone in their care has something extra during the holidays.

It truly was a great morning helping out and of course, we realized just how lucky we are to have the opportunities we have been given. With our own families far away, it’s nice to have a great network of Australian Women in this city who “get it” and who are going through similar experiences to you.

We hope you have a wonderful and safe Christmas and we look forward to working with more New York women’s charities including Sanctuary for Families next year.

If you would like more information about SFF, please visit – www.sanctuaryforfamilies.org

Volunteers pictured are:

Peta Arthurson, Anita Davidson, Kelli Armstrong, Breanna Seabrook, Karina Gulesserian & Elisa Clarke Wadham