After Craigmore mum Christine Lino lost her husband when he was hit by a car on Main North Road in March, she was left with six children at home, including baby Pedro.

Now eleven months old, Pedro will be marking his first Christmas with his five siblings and a helping hand from UnitingSA.

Through the support provided by donors of its annual Christmas Appeal, the family visited the UnitingSA Toy Room in Port Adelaide this week to choose a gift.

The family will also be attending Christmas lunch, provided by the not for profit, alongside dozens of others who would normally be alone or without a meal.

Ms Lino said the family would otherwise be skipping Christmas.

“When they asked me if they were getting anything for Christmas this year, I had to tell them no,” Ms Lino said.

“I want to, but I just can’t do it.”

UnitingSA has been helping the family navigate payments of their soaring energy bills, recently helping to negotiate payment of a $3700 electricity charge.

“I was so happy, I was crying,” Ms Lino said.

“They are just angels sent to my family, and I am so grateful for that.”

Pedro and siblings Penna (19), Yangi (16), Kiki (10), Grace (9), Adrian (7) are saying thank-you for these small blessings, offering a timely reminder that support will be needed into the new year.

More than 500 families and 300 individuals have visited UnitingSA’s Toy Room in the lead up to Christmas this year – more than ever before.

“Like so many not for profits, we have faced an increase in demand right across our services in 2023 and particularly in the lead up to Christmas,” UnitingSA CEO Jen Hall said.

“Despite the current cost of living crisis, it has been heartening to see South Australians still donating so many toys. This ensures families can still experience the joy of receiving a gift and sharing a meal at Christmas.

“It’s not too late to donate. Early in the new year we expect to see demand increase as the financial hangover of Christmas hits SA households hard.

“The bills just keep coming, and with household budgets already stretched. For some families, finding extra money for things like school uniforms, shoes and supplies is just impossible,” Ms Hall said.

UnitingSA’s Toy Room is now closed for this year. Make a cash donation to the UnitingSA Christmas Appeal here.