Marking a bittersweet milestone, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation has packed its 100,000th Buddy Bag.
The occasion was recognised at Punt Road Oval by CEO Lesley Podesta, Richmond Football Club players Kane Lambert, Jack Ross and Oleg Markov and Foundation Ambassador Ashton Kline.
For more than 11 years, Buddy Bags have been provided to vulnerable children escaping family violence and entering refuges or care.
About 60,000 children are in emergency accommodation across the country, and figures show domestic violence reports rise over the Christmas-New Year period when demand for Buddy Bags increases significantly.
“Buddy Bags give great comfort and return a sense of dignity to a child during a time of anxiety and confusion. They really help,” Lesley said. “Unfortunately, the call for bags is highest for children from newborns to two-year-olds.”
At only 15, Ashton and six-year-old brother Grant were placed into foster care following a horrendous childhood at the hands of their violent and controlling father, culminating in the death of their mother. While in care, they were helped by the Foundation.
Now a nursing lecturer at Australian Catholic University, Ashton encourages his students to regularly volunteer for the Buddy Bag packing program.
“Without the support of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, my brother and I may not be where we are today,” said Ashton.
“I’m grateful that my students now have the opportunity to give back to the Foundation who gave me so much as a child, to help give hope to other children experiencing what I did.”
Richmond Football Club CEO Brendon Gale said it’s sad but also awe inspiring to think the Alannah & Madeline Foundation has helped 100,000 children in their time of need.
“I’m proud of the role the Richmond Football Club has and will continue to play in supporting the Foundation to reduce the incidence of violence and bullying to children.”
Lesley said she was grateful to all the Foundation’s supporters and partners who have helped it reach this milestone. “It is truly a partnership.”
This Christmas, give a child fleeing violence the gift of a Buddy Bag. Donate now.
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