LIGHTING A SPARK: Budgewoi mums Kristal Forestieri and Holly Stringer put on a free community barbecue in the park on Christmas Day.
LIGHTING A SPARK: Budgewoi mums Kristal Forestieri and Holly Stringer put on a free community barbecue in the park on Christmas Day.

A small dream leads to a great event

BUDGEWOI mum Kristal Forestieri knew Christmas wouldn't be the same this year after the loss of her grandfather to lung cancer. And she figured there were probably other people in the community doing it tough too.

So, she and her friend Holly Stringer put their heads together and came up with the idea of a simple free community barbecue in the park "to fill your heart and your tummy".

"We went in half expecting to only get one or two people but we got about 20," Kristal said.

"It was quite a challenging year for us, losing Pop, and I wanted to change our Christmas, make it better and brighten someone else's at the same time.

"I wanted to reach out to people who were alone - especially the elderly and single parents who might not have their child with them at this time of year, because I know how hard that is."

While a cross-section of ages attended, Kristal said one older gentleman who lived on his own, with his only family six hours north and south of the Coast, particularly struck a chord.

"He was an incredibly intelligent man who had done so much over the years," she said.

"It was great to see people mingling with locals they didn't know and with my friends and family, who came to support us.

"We just wanted to be able to maybe touch one person's life but it turned into much more.

"It makes you realise how many people are alone out there."

A patient transfer officer studying to be a paramedic, Kristal said giving back to the community was "what lights a spark in me" and next Christmas "I will 100 per cent do it again".


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