Di and Willy Paes.
Di and Willy Paes. Alistair Brightman

Strangers pack 222 Christmas parcels for Aussie troops

MARYBOROUGH'S Tam Geritz is amazed at the number of strangers who rallied together to help share Christmas with those who aren't at home.

Ms Geritz gets together with helpers including friends, strangers and community groups before Christmas each year to make care packs to send to the defence personnel deployed overseas.

"Christmas is a time of giving, being with your family and friends," Ms Geritz said.

"Our deployed troops have sacrificed this to serve Australia.

"This is our way of letting them know, even though we are complete strangers, they maybe away from home but they are not forgotten.

"For us this has become a Christmas tradition, and we hope it brings them joy when they receive them."


Care packs being sent to our defence forces overseas at Christmas - (L) Leanne Thomsen, organizer Tam Geritz and Ryan Stehbens.
(L) Leanne Thomsen, organizer Tam Geritz and Ryan Stehbens with some of the care packs being sent to our defence forces overseas at Christmas. Alistair Brightman

Ms Geritz said the community had shown a lot of support.

"Individuals, businesses and community groups all pulled together to make the care packs a reality.

"It was truly amazing to see complete strangers sending money and donations."

On Sunday more than 50 people joined Ms Geritz at the Tinana Community Clubhouse to pack 222 boxes for the troops.

"We have donations still coming in which will help us reach our goal of 250 packages," she said.

"There were people as young as four years up to 70 years donating their time on Sunday.

"Maryborough and Hervey Bay Rotarians, complete strangers were shoulder to shoulder - everyone was working together- some for an hour, others all day.

"I'm not a cry baby but I have never cried so much ever."

In 2013 three care packs were sent; in 2014 the number had risen to 30 and in 2015 there were 65.

"These care packages are so much more than just some personal supplies in a box, they are assembled with love and hopefully are received with as much excitement and enthusiasm as us preparing them. I just wish I could see their faces when they open their packs.

"In the past we have received emails and letters thanking us from those serving that received a care pack, some even included photos and their patches.

"One young soldier in particular presented us in person with a plaque with his deployment patches and a personal thank-you for our efforts. He said when he received his care package it was overwhelming to get something from a complete stranger at that time of year.

"The way I see it, we are all Australian, they are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters and we just want to share Christmas with them."