Pregnant at 13: Mum’s struggles as Christmas pressures rise
Falling pregnant at 13 and now living with her six-year-old on the Sunshine Coast hinterland in a caravan without running water, electricity or any basic comforts is hardly the scenario for a life full of Christmas cheer.
This is the plight of Alice, not her real name, who survives by keeping a low profile and moving constantly, according to Sunshine Coast community group Youturn Youth Support.
Youturn spokeswoman Susan Beaton said Alice was scared, desperate and permanently on guard as she tried to stop her daughter's estranged father from taking her.
Ms Beaton said he was recently released from jail following a serious crime.
Planning a Christmas meal or even buying presents will be the farthest thing from Alice's mind and an unaffordable luxury for her and her daughter.
The Tewantin-based support agency sees many more stories like Alice's and other families who are struggling to make ends meet this festive season.
Ms Beaton said what Alice really needed this Christmas was a break from her worries, and a chance to experience some Christmas joy.
Instead of dropping a food hamper to Alice and other families like her, Youturn wants to gift her and her daughter a lasting memory.
"The gift a memory will offer a struggling family with a special dining or local tourism experience - along with a Christmas tree and gift for each family member from a local supplier to put under the tree," Ms Beaton said.
"At the same time we would be supporting a local tourism or hospitality business who are also doing it tough, so it's a win-win scenario," she said.
Locals can gift a memory experience package valued at $250 with a Christmas tree, a gift for each family member from a local supplier and a dining experience at a local restaurant or a day out at a local water or theme park.
There is also the option to become a regular giver such as $5 or $10 each payday to help sustain and support a young person or child throughout the year.
Youturn's Darcy Foley said there was real value in giving a little cash regularly to young people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness.
"People trying to find or sustain a stable roof over their heads are not in such a good position to be receiving big hampers or extra belongings … they travel light and don't have storage," Mr Foley said.
Youturn has a suggested shopping list on its website. The charity is part of the Daily's Adopt a Family and the Noosa Mayor's Christmas appeals.
Donations can be dropped off at 12 Ernest St, Tewantin, or at the RSL Tewantin.