Caravan of Care

Caravan of Care

This year saw the cancellation of many of our Bear Cottage events and most disappointingly, our much-loved Christmas party.

When we knew that holding the party was no longer an option, we decided if our Bear Cottage families couldn't come to us, then we would bring Christmas to them - and so the Christmas Caravan of Care idea was born!

It was a great idea but then we started to work out the logistics! Travelling more than 3000km, visiting 270 families in more than 45 locations. There were Santa sacks to be made, donations of toys needed and gifts specially selected for each child and their siblings. Our bus was decorated and Santa had his suit dry cleaned and beard trimmed.

It was a big job but one that the entire Bear Cottage team (staff and volunteers) have wholeheartedly embraced. It has been an absolute privilege to be welcomed into your homes, to meet other members of your family and even have a cuddle with your pets - cats, dogs and even cows! It has also given us a great appreciation of the distances many of you travel to visit us.

We were often reminded of our "city-slickerness", particularly when one mum on hearing that we were lost, told us to "Go West!!" We weren't quite sure whether that was right-West or left-West!

The smiles and love that we have received along the way have been enough to nourish us all for a long, long time and we are very grateful for the opportunity to bring Christmas cheer to you.

As well as visiting our families, we were also keen to support the local hospitals that care for your children and ensured that we also provided gifts to the paediatric wards at Manning Base, Armidale, Tamworth, Dubbo and Orange Hospitals. We also donated to local Aboriginal communities in Dubbo and Orange and hosted a BBQ lunch for the children at the Allira Aboriginal Day Care Centre, with the help of Dubbo Police.

Our Caravan of Care would not have been possible without the support of a number of organisations who have donated goods and services. These include our wonderful friends from Accor Hotels who provided accommodation for our staff members and who also support Bear Cottage throughout the year. Blackdog Creative Marketing designed the artwork which decorated our Bear Cottage bus, IVE Group who produced the decals that covered our bus. Our mascot, "Manly Bear" was provided by My Teddy. Manly Bear was an invaluable participant on our trips - he loved having his photo taken with many of you and is probably the most photogenic member of the Bear Cottage team! Thank you to Hasbro for an incredibly generous donation of games and toys, Cakes by Kathleen, Dolphins of Mollymook, Dubbo and Orange Police and our incredibly supportive community who so generously donate toys and gifts to Bear Cottage each Christmas for our children.

We couldn't have asked for a better way to end the year and we thank you all for your strength and resilience that continues to inspire us every day!

Monday, 11 January 2021