The annual toy drive for children affected by HIV is on again and the community is being called to help with new toy donations.

The initiative, now in its seventh year, was developed in regional Victoria by Friends Alike of Bendigo – Central Victoria (FAB-CV) and the Country Awareness Network (CAN) Victoria.

CAN executive director and toy drive founder Adam Wright said the idea came from his native US, where in the city of St Louis an annual toy drive helped children in families where some, or several members, were affected by HIV.

“When I came here I thought, I wonder if there’s anything like that here,” Wright told the Star Observer.

“And so we started it up, here in Bendigo.”

Wright said the impact on family members of a relative with a chronic illness was often forgotten.

“It can affect the whole family and that can especially be felt at Christmas,” he said.

A large number of toys are donated each year and distributed to children across Victoria before Christmas.

HIV support groups around the state, such as Positive Women, Straight Arrows and People Living with HIV/AIDS Victoria, help in the collection and distribution.

Wright said the generosity of the community had been “amazing” in previous years.
“People affected by HIV deserve our acceptance, support and understanding — especially the children,” he said.

“The donations are always greatly appreciated. It’s so nice to be involved with a project that brings a smile to a child’s face, particularly those who are among the more vulnerable in our community.”

Donations generally are strong however, the eight to 14-years age group requires some help.

Donations of new toys or money to purchase toys can be dropped off at the CAN Resource Centre, 34 Myers St, Bendigo (business hours) until December 3. Those in Melbourne can drop off donations at the Positive Living Centre in Prahran.

A gift registry is available by phoning CAN on 03 5443 8355 for more information.

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