When six-year-old Eleanor celebrated her birthday last month her wish list did not include the usual toys you would expect from a Kindy student.

Instead, she asked her extended family for 20 backpacks in a range of colours and styles. She was gifted 36 of them and requested to go shopping. But instead of choosing birthday gifts for herself, Eleanor went on a spending spree and bought pyjamas, cuddly toys, toothbrushes and toothpaste to fill each backpack.

Eleanor and her Mum lovingly packed and labelled each bag and hand delivered them to CareSouth’s Griffith Permanency Support Program. The backpacks are for children coming in to CareSouth’s Foster care program and Eleanor wanted to make sure each young person had a toy to cuddle, a new pair of pyjamas and a toothbrush.

Each year for her birthday, instead of requesting gifts for herself, Eleanor chooses a charity to donate to, and with her Mum’s help finds out what is most needed and asks family members to contribute instead of buying presents.

When asked how she came up with such a wonderful idea Eleanor said: “My Mum explained (CareSouth) help other kids, the kids they might feel upset, so I bought them bags and a teddy.

“We have a family friend who is a foster carer so Eleanor and I did some research to see what kids might need when they first come into care,” said her proud mum Zoe. “She chose the backpack idea and decided what to fill them with.”

Asked why she chooses to donate instead of receiving presents Eleanor said matter-of-factly: “I have everything I need here.”

Last year Eleanor asked for groceries for her birthday so she could donate them to Ronald McDonald house. Her and her Mum went shopping, filled the car with supplies and drove to Canberra from the tiny town of Barellan, where they live, to deliver the care packages. This year CareSouth were the lucky recipients of Eleanor’s generosity.

“Eleanor is very giving, sometimes I have to stop her from giving all she owns to her cousins,” laughed Zoe. “She also doesn’t really like toys and is hard to buy for. So we came up with the idea to donate to a charity each birthday.”

CareSouth’s Griffith Foster Care Team Leader Brenda Trembath was honoured to received Eleanor’s generous donation.

“Eleanor is just amazing,” said Brenda. “Having these bags has already proven to be a great resource. In the last two weeks we have taken in two separate sibling groups as an emergency placement. The four little ones are all under the age of four and have come to us late in the day with no personal belongings.

“As you can imagine it is a very emotional time for both the parents and children when they come into care and there is no time for packing bags in most cases. Thanks to Eleanor’s generosity we were able to give each child a little bag with a cuddly comfort toy, pyjamas, undies, toothbrush and toothpaste just to get them through their first night with their new carers.”
Thank you Eleanor for your selfless contribution to making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people.

*Images published with the permission of Eleanor’s mother