World AIDS Day is upon us next month and regional Victorians are getting in early with a Christmas toy drive for youngsters affected by HIV.
GLBT support group Friends Alike of Bendigo – Central Victoria along with the Country Awareness Network Victoria (CAN) will hold their sixth annual Toy Drive for Kids Affected by HIV/AIDS over the coming weeks.
The charity drive collects toys, or donations for toys, to be distributed to children around Victoria during the festive season.
Playing Santa, HIV support groups Positive Women, Straight Arrows and PLWHA Victoria will launch the sleigh and deliver the goods after the collection deadline of December 5.
Although the number of new diagnoses in young people in Victoria is quite low — making up only around 2 percent of all new diagnoses in Victoria from 2004–2008 — the emotional and financial impacts of HIV-positive parents on children can be great.
CAN executive officer Adam Wright said the effort was important as the community shouldn’t forget HIV impacts on even the youngest members of our society.
“When someone is diagnosed with HIV it can have a pretty devastating impact for many families and not only with health, but financially as well,” Wright said.
“The idea is really a boost for children because, often with parents with a chronic illness, they may not get the same number of present as others.”
Wright said in past years the generosity of the rural community had been “amazing”.
Toys or donations of money can be dropped off at the CAN Resource Centre, 34 Myers St, Bendigo during business hours. Melburnians can leave donations at the Positive Living Centre in South Yarra.
A gift registry listing ages and gender is available on request.
CAN will also host its second annual Red Ribbon Art Competition in Bendigo at the end of the month. Entries close tomorrow.

info: Contact CAN on 5443 8355

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