Christmas sewed up for underpriviliged children
IN THE summer months, Patricia Wolzak, 87, plays golf, jumps in the pool for water aerobics and still drives her car.
But come winter, the one activity that keeps the Hervey Bay resident warm at home is knitting beautifully crafted dolls for the local Operation Christmas Child project.
Mrs Wolzak, who knitted 78 dolls for this year's collection, crafts four standard teddies each year, including a footballer, superman and a boy and girl.
Over the years hundreds of dolls have been collected by area coordinator Julie Terry, packed into Christmas-themed shoe boxes and sent with other donated items to children living in poverty.
"I can't do an awful lot and I just can't sit and do nothing - so I knit," Mrs Wolzak said.
"It gives me a very nice feeling. I think we should all do what we can to help people.
"I don't have a lot of spare money but I do have time, so I can do that."
Mrs Wolzak said a lot of work goes into each doll but bringing joy to a child who may not even own a cuddly friend makes the effort worthwhile.
"It must be absolutely wonderful to see the look on the children's faces, I would love to be there to see it," she said.
"The actual knitting doesn't take very long, I can knit a couple of dolls in a few days ... it's the stuffing and finishing off that all takes time.
"Everything has to be really securely sewn so little fingers can't pull it apart.
"A lot of work goes into them but I enjoy it."
Mrs Wolzak's daughter, local artist Anne Ham, also volunteers her time to sketch pictures to go into colouring books for the children and her grandchild, Tiana Ham, helps to pack the boxes.
Since 1993, the Christian-based Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child project, has distributed more than 146million shoe boxes filled with gifts to children in more than 150 countries and territories worldwide, who were victims of poverty, natural disasters, famine, disease, war or persecution.
About 2500 are sent from the Fraser Coast each year and include school supplies, soft toys, soap, toothbrushes and clothing. Julie Terry has been the Fraser Coast area coordinator for 18 years and said she was inspired by the communities' willingness to help the project succeed.
"I have had the opportunity to see the joy this project brings to our local community as they pack shoe boxes or contribute items to go into the shoe boxes ... people give so freely," Ms Terry said.
"This project provides an opportunity for people of all ages to be involved in a simple but hands-on project that has the power to transform the lives of individual children, their families and whole communities."
Anyone interested in supporting the project through donations or lending a hand can phone Ms Terry on 0428 289 213. Visit www.operation christmaschild.org.au.