Shop and change lives this Christmas
WHILE former young offenders are making and painting toy trucks for Christmas at Toys Change Lives in Casino, the employment pathway program received its own Christmas gift of a $10,000 community grant.
Five years ago Pastor Peter Boughey was working with young offenders from Grafton Detention Centre in a cramped garage in his garden in Casino to the public.
Three years later the workshop moved to Walker St with a shop front to sell the toys painted with indigenous designs.
Fast forward to last week's Blak Market on Bear Island in Sydney, and the items made by participants of the Keeping Our Freedom Youth Indigenous program were sold out and TCL made $2500.
"The money goes to development and increasing production and making the working conditions better," Mr Boughey said. "Any young men who have offended can come here to work."
Sixteen year old Callum Marriot is one of the boys who has had his life turned around by TCL.
"My life was hard and going downhill after my father passed away when I was 10," Callum said.
"Pastor Pete offered me a job and since then my life has changed heaps for the better."
Callum has cut down on the ciggies too, he said.
"I'm around people who want to grow too, and who know want it's like to make mistakes but try again."
TCL welcomed the $10,000 Westpac Foundation Community Grant as well as a QRE Foundation grant of another $10,000.
TCL business development manager Julie Harris said she didn't know how Mr Boughey could do so much.
"Pete is totally unpaid and does it all as a volunteer," Ms Harris said.
"He troubleshoots out the back and we want to unhitch him from the daily grind."
The organisation is looking for a workshop production manager and wants to invest in infrastructure.
They need air-conditioning, shelving, an electrical upgrade, solar panels and more workshop space at the TCL shop site.
Check out the range of products including decorations, paintings and toys and have an indigenous Christmas this year.
Toys Change Lives at 112 Walker St in Casino. Open Monday to Friday 9am-4pm and on Christmas Eve for last minute gifts. Phone: 0428662517.