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Cromwell women Julie Morton and Bev Quayle have tasked themselves with keeping the Grinch at bay.
For the past 17 years the pair have provided Christmas cheer to ‘‘hundreds and hundreds’’ of Cromwell families through Secret Santa Cromwell, supplying gifts and treats to families doing things a bit tough.
‘‘Secret Santa Cromwell is to provide gifts and a bit of Christmas cheer for families who may not have a good Christmas,’’ Mrs Morton said.
Illness, a death in the family and job losses were just some of the reasons people might find themselves nominated for Secret Santa Cromwell, she said.
‘‘Bev and I want to wake up on Christmas morning and know we’ve made a difference and we try really, really hard to get to everybody in our community.’’
Last year the initiative provided gifts to 75 nominated families and Mrs Morton expected to exceed that number this holiday season.
‘‘I think we’ll surpass that this year, because of Covid-19.’’
Three ‘‘trees of giving’’ had been set up at local business for members of the public to donate unwrapped gifts to be packaged and distributed to families.
Babies and younger children were often well catered for, but gifts suitable for tweens, teenagers and adults often were areas needing more donations, Mrs Morton said.
It was a huge undertaking for the women to collect, pack and distribute the gifts — they did call upon their families for assistance — and the pair had refined their processes throughout the years.
They used to deliver the gifts under the cover of darkness, but after being chased by dogs and mistaken for prowlers more than a few times they had decided it was best to deliver them before Christmas — and when it was light.
Delivery day was emotional.
‘‘It’s the best day and the worst day,’’ Mrs Morton said.
‘‘A lot of times we don’t know the circumstances and some we do know — sometimes we have to pull ourselves over for 10 minutes or so — it’s an emotional rollercoaster, so we come home absolutely exhausted.’’
The hard work was worth it.
‘‘We just want to make a difference, and we want to live in a community where people give a damn, and people care about each other.’’
‘‘That’s why we do what we do.’’
To contribute, people can leave unwrapped new and excellent condition items at the ‘‘trees of giving’’ at Paper Plus Cromwell, OnPoint and ANZ until December 23.