St John's Care's Sue Jordan at their premises in Reid. Photo: Rohan Thomson
St John's Care director Sue Jordan has a message for thieves who smashed open a door and stole gift cards meant for Christmas presents for children of struggling parents.
"If you came to the front door and asked, we would have helped you.
"We don't reject anyone here."
Ms Jordan was left almost speechless after intruders struck in the early hours of Monday morning in Reid, making off with $1000 worth of gift and iTunes cards.
"This is just... We work really hard to make life nice.
"We do a Christmas day lunch and next Monday would have opened our Christmas Present Room."
St John's provides emergency relief for struggling families and has stepped up its appeal for unwrapped presents for the present room which operates like a toy shop without a cash register. It also gives out food for hampers.
Ms Jordan said teenagers were hard to buy for at Christmas time, which was why St John's spent much of the year collecting money for gift cards.
The theft happened about 3am.
Toys for younger children in a separate room were untouched.
"There was little damage. They wrenched open the back door. They came into the office after taking a punt because they know we do a Christmas present room."
Ms Jordan also discovered $300 worth of MyWay bus tickets had been stolen.
In partnership with Anglicare, St John's relies on donations from parishes, parishioners, volunteers and community groups.
"We are proud of what we do. Last year we handed out 559 presents.
"All we are trying to do is help people," Ms Jordan said. "Some very needy people will miss out."
Approaching Christmas, steep gas and electricity bills put families under pressure.
"We are just getting busier all the time. A basket of groceries costs so much these days. Imagine a mother on NewStart allowance, which is about $490 a fortnight. By the time she pays rent, electricity and gas, there is not a lot left over for food."
St John's Care would welcome donations to make up the shortfall. Visit http://www.stjohnscanberra.org/care-need-help/ for more information.