The Smith Family Toy and Book Appeal
Making a real difference to disadvantaged children at Christmas.
At a time of year that is particularly difficult for families and children doing it tough, the annual Smith Family Toy and Book Appeal seeks to put a smile on as many young faces as possible as part of its ongoing work with young people.
17 December, 2019
We know there are thousands of children who will potentially go without anything this Christmas because their families are doing it tough
On Christmas Eve in 1922, five businessmen walked into a Sydney orphanage, their arms brimming with toys, sweet treats, and a single goal to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in Australia. When asked by the orphanage matron who the children could thank, one of the men, preferring to remain anonymous said, “We’re all Smiths.” And so began the (almost) 100 year history of The Smith Family (TSF). While over the years the focus of The Smith Family has shifted from a welfare emergency help framework to an investment in the education of disadvantaged children, The Smith Family continues the wonderful tradition of giving gifts at Christmas through their annual Toy and Book Appeal.
Chief Executive Officer of The Smith Family Dr Lisa O’Brien explains:
“We know there are thousands of children who will potentially go without anything this Christmas because their families are doing it tough. We know that parents are doing their best, but I think one of the big challenges is that people don’t realise the extent of poverty in our nation and the fact that it has an impact on the education of young people. Our challenge is to shine a light on the issue and to do our bit to address that problem. The Toy and Book Appeal gives us the resources to provide those kids who might miss out, with a gift.”
The children that receive toys and books are children that The Smith Family help all year round through their Learning For Life Program. Targeting the most disadvantaged kids across the country, Learning For Life provides emotional, practical and financial support for their education.
“We know the kids who grow up in financial disadvantage will start school developmentally vulnerable, they fall further behind as they progress through school and they’re far less likely to complete Year 12. So we’re trying to give those kids the extra support they need to keep them at school through primary and high school and hopefully onto post school study. We’re giving them the tools to create a future for themselves.”
This year, through the Toy and Book Appeal, The Smith Family aim to deliver over 81,000 new toys and 54,000 new books to 27,000 Australian children living in disadvantage. And while those targets will have an enormous impact on each recipient, the Toy and Book Appeal forms just one component of The Smith Family’s broader Christmas Appeal which seeks to raise 4.3 million dollars nationally to provide mentoring and learning support for over 10,000 children in 2020. The goals may be big, but the social impact will be even bigger.
According to The Smith Family, investing in the education of a disadvantaged child delivers long-term positive benefits for the kids themselves, their family and potentially generations to come. When TSF connect young people with those in the broader community that will nurture and encourage them in their aspirations, a network of support can really help them to find their feet and forge their careers. When you consider that 1.1 million Australian children and young people grow up in poverty – which can indelibly limit their choices, opportunities and outcomes in life; breaking the cycle and providing these children with critical skills, access and equipment has never been more important.
“The best gift you can give is to change the course of a child’s life by supporting their education, because we know from our research that it gives kids who are living in poverty the very best chance of experiencing a better future,” says Dr O’Brien.
This year, through the Toy and Book Appeal, The Smith Family aim to deliver over 81,000 new toys and 54,000 new books to 27,000 Australian children living in disadvantage
Support begins with initiatives that help build skills, knowledge, motivation, self-belief and a network of positive relationships with parents, peers and significant others
“And there’s a whole range of ways in which people can be involved. From giving time, giving through a corporate partnership, donating toys and books, donating to the appeal or even sponsoring one of the children in our Learning for Life program which is a year round commitment.”
Support begins with initiatives that help build skills, knowledge, motivation, self-belief and a network of positive relationships with parents, peers and significant others. The Audi Foundation has been supporting The Smith Family’s Work Inspiration Program for several years, an employer-led initiative that provides young people with opportunities to experience the world of work first hand. Additionally this Christmas, Audi Australia will support The Smith Family Toy and Book Appeal with numerous staff from all departments volunteering to wrap gifts and help deliver them to recipients. Indeed, in many cases, Santa’s sleigh will be replaced by a fleet of Audis this year too, as a number of dealerships have provided Audi vehicles to help The Smith Family with logistics in the lead up to delivery day. Still others have donated Audi vehicles to be raffled to further support The Smith Family.
If you can make a personal or financial donation, consider donating. If you can purchase a gift from The Smith Family’s online gift catalogue, add to your cart. If you can host a Toy and Book Gift Collection, seek help from your circle. If you can volunteer, raise your hand and give the gift of time this Christmas. There are children lives waiting to be changed.
“Our volunteers love it, there are so many people who get a real thrill from being able to give to others at Christmas time and there are many generous Australians that just continue to get behind our efforts of Christmas giving and helping others get ready for a better New Year,” says Dr O’Brien.
The actions of those selfless ‘Smiths’ all this years ago continue to resonate and to make a difference, not just at Christmas but in the lives of many.
Want to ensure you always receive the latest news and features from Audi? Subscribe now to the Audi Magazine newsletter.