Campbelltown teen's toy drive helps kids in need

Spread joy: Christine Paul from Little Zak's Academy is happy that local girl Astrid Graham is using the centre as a drop-off point for her toy drive. Picture: Chris Lane
Spread joy: Christine Paul from Little Zak's Academy is happy that local girl Astrid Graham is using the centre as a drop-off point for her toy drive. Picture: Chris Lane

Christmas truly is the time for giving and for Astrid Graham there is simply nothing better.

The 14-year-old Campbelltown girl has been a philanthropist since she was just seven years old.

Astrid has a Facebook page called Help Astrid Pay it Forward, where she works to help families in need throughout the year.

This year the charitable teen is holding a Christmas toy drive to collect items for Burnside Brighter Futures, Shining Stars Outreach, Bonnie's refuge and Wilma's refuge.

"I've done this for four years now and each time it gets bigger," she said.

"It's amazing - I think it is just so good to give back.

"I don't have the exact numbers but we had more than 500 gifts last year which is amazing.

"I try to choose a few different places each year for the gifts to go so that I know they are going to people who could really use them."

Astrid is collecting gifts for children of all ages as well as gifts for women.

I think this all started when I saw how giving back can put a smile on someone's face.

Astrid Graham

"We need lots of new gifts because we can't guarantee if a used item is going to work - I don't want to give anyone a broken toy for Christmas," she said.

"They don't need to be wrapped either, we will wrap them up before they go.

"I am getting pretty good at wrapping them all up."

One of this year's drop of points is Little Zak's Academy.

People who wish to donate can drop their gifts to any Little Zak's centre in NSW, including Narellan Vale, until December 6.

Astrid also purchases gifts with money raised on her GoFundMe page.

"I think this all started when I saw how giving back can put a smile on someone's face," she said.

"People going through rough times really enjoy getting presents.

"That's why we try to get presents for people of all ages."

The budding philanthropist was also voted 2018 Young Citizen of the Year in Macarthur.

Astrid said she wanted to help people who had struggled just like she had.

"I had been bullied at school when I was younger for being different so I feel like I can connect with people who are going through a similar thing," she said.

"It lets others know that they aren't alone and makes them feel like they have someone that they can talk too."

The talented teen encouraged people to get behind the gift drive and give back to people in need.

"I think people feel good knowing that they have made a small difference in the world," she said.

"It's nice to give back to people in the community who need it - especially as a kid.

"We are the future so we might be small but we can make a big difference if we try."

This story Campbelltown teen's toy drive helps kids in need first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.