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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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Professional netballer and long-time advocate for carers Jillian describes herself as “just a little old lady”, but her energy, enthusiasm and, most of all, generosity is anything but little.

Jillian is a born go-getter, having raised seven children as a single mother, played and coached netball since a teenager – helping to empower children through the power of sport – and campaigned for decades for better support for carers in mental health. Now, at 84 years old, Jillian is still active as ever in her community, supporting those less fortunate than herself.

A cause close to her heart is helping disadvantaged children and their families through ChildFund. For almost 20 years, Jillian has been donating to ChildFund’s appeals and, more recently, buying Gifts for Good. The latter was inspired by her late son Justin.

“On Christmas Day Justin would hand out all the Gifts for Good he had bought,” Jillian says. “It was such a special thing he did.”

Often, tears of gratitude were shed as each family member read aloud how their Gift for Good would support disadvantaged children around the world. “We would give thanks for the lives we had, compared to the lives of the children receiving Gifts for Good,” Jillian says.

“I remember one Christmas we had a boyfriend of someone’s join us and he received a Gifts for Good, and he said it was his most memorable Christmas experience ever .

“It was such a genuine experience of giving and thoughtfulness for him; it wasn’t just about giving each other gifts without a thought or without gratitude for what we had.”

This Christmas, grandmother-of-seven, Christine Johnson, will be giving gifts that bring joy to people beyond the loved ones receiving them.

Instead of ordinary presents, Christine’s grandchildren, 12-year-old Michaela and 11-year-old Lachlan (pictured above), have asked Christine to donate Gifts for Good, to help children and their families in disadvantaged communities overseas.

Michaela and Lachlan chose two items each from this year’s ChildFund Gifts for Good catalogue, including mosquito nets to prevent children from contracting diseases such as malaria, and school supplies to help ensure vulnerable children could continue their education.

Lachlan also chose a dozen chickens, and Michaela a warm blanket and pillow.

Christine, a long-time ChildFund supporter, says Michaela and Lachlan have a strong social conscience and were enthusiastic about the idea of giving Gifts for Good this festive season.

“I’m so proud of them,” Christine says. “They really love doing things like that. They’re beautiful children and they’re very conscious of the environment and of others; they’re very empathetic with a lot of things going on in the world.

“They’re very aware about ways they can improve things in the world, so when I showed them the Gifts for Good catalogue they jumped at the idea.

“They were pleased about doing it.”