Santas Helpers

Reporter: Michelle Tapper

They're thousands of miles from the North Pole but Santa has helpers in the most unlikely places. On Queensland's sweltering Sunshine Coast, dozens of senior citizens are working over time, because they know it's better to give than to receive -- especially when you're giving to children in need."We've actually produced in excess of 300 toys", said 72-year-old Keith Lanham. Like most retirees, Keith has a lot of time on his hands, so instead of just sitting back and enjoying his golden years, he's hard at work in his woodshop handcrafting toys.

Keith, a former cabinet maker, is just one of 50 volunteers from the Hibiscus Retirement Village who spend up to 30 hours a week doing what they love -- wood working, knitting, embroidering and sewing gifts for the Salvation Army's wishing tree."Time is nothing -- it's just lovely to do it and see there little faces when they get something", said Keith's wife, Clarie For Claire, 'tis the season to be sewing. The former seamstress puts her skills to good use sewing dozens of bed sets for the dolls cots her husband makes.

80-year-old Shirley McCloughlan specializes in knitting teddy bears and in the last couple of months, has whipped up an impressive 30 bears. "Apart from the wools which we donate, then we have the fillings and the eyes and so forth, so it takes a while to sew them all up when you finish the teddy bear, The knitting isn't as bad as having to make them up, but I enjoy it", Shirley said.

It might take 3 to 6 months for 68-year-old Judy Wiltshire to complete just one beautiful and intricate hand made quilt, but it's a gift money can't buy for the lucky family that gets to enjoy it. "Handmade quilts take a while to do and they are made with a lot of love", Judy said. With the countdown to Christmas well and truly on, Major Kevin Holland says the Salvation Army still needs thousands more gifts so children don't go without.

"Its good for the soul, it's good for the heart and it's good for the health. And there are a lot of kids out there in a great state of need, so it helps to fill a very deep need", Keith said. Santa would be pleased.

People can help by making their donations of either Christmas presents, food or cash donations at any K-mart or any wishing tree anywhere in Australia