Southlake Marketplace robbed of food hampers, cash and toys on eve of Christmas function for needy families

DESPERATE APPEAL: Christine Mastello at the Southlake Marketplace rooms in Cooranbong. The group is now urgently seeking donations of toys and gift vouchers to replace items allegedly stolen from the building over the weekend. Picture: David Stewart
DESPERATE APPEAL: Christine Mastello at the Southlake Marketplace rooms in Cooranbong. The group is now urgently seeking donations of toys and gift vouchers to replace items allegedly stolen from the building over the weekend. Picture: David Stewart

CHRISTMAS food hampers and toys meant for needy Westlakes families have allegedly been stolen from the Southlake Marketplace rooms at Cooranbong Community Centre.

Christine Mastello of Southlake Marketplace said thieves forced entry to the centre some time between Friday night and Sunday morning.

“We’d got everything ready to distribute the hampers and toys at our Christmas function next Tuesday, December 18,” Ms Mastello said.

“The toys were meant for the families of children from Toronto to Freemans Waterhole… families who are finding it hard to afford toys.”

Some 200 food hampers and 60 toys for all age groups were taken along with $500 in cash.

“The Avondale College Church has already replaced the cash for us,” Ms Mastello said.

It’s estimated that donated toys to the value of $2400 were stolen from the building.

The group is now urgently seeking toys, or $20 gift vouchers for toys, to present to needy families at the function on Tuesday.

Ms Mastello said it was the second time Southlake Marketplace had been robbed this year.

“We were robbed in July, too. So we’re now spending a fortune to upgrade our security,” she said.

It appeared that in the recent break-in, thieves jimmied open the front door, she said.

Police forensic experts went over the building on Sunday.

Police investigations are continuing.

In January, Southlake Marketplace won the Contribution to Lake Macquarie Award at Lake Macquarie City Council’s Australia Day Awards.

The council noted the organisation supplied 4000 affordable meals each week to residents in the  area.

“The work of Southlake Marketplace has made a significant impact to the people who struggle to pay for life’s daily essential needs,” mayor Kay Fraser said.

“Their effort in growing the service and making an impact is nothing short of inspirational.”

Phone 0432 580 059 or email southlakefoodcare@gmail.com if you can help.

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