A $60,000 Christmas appeal shortfall has prompted the Samaritans to launch an eleventh-hour appeal for funds.
Samaritans manager for the Mid North Coast region, Roger Bosmans said the target of $120,000 is $60,000 short and the funds were needed to fund support services that receive little or no government funding.
"Christmas is a tough time for many families and young people, and our appeal each year is a major source of income for our support services," Mr Bosmans said.
"This includes our important emergency relief services that are often the first port of call for struggling families and homeless people at any time of the year."
Donations are down but the demand for help is up.
The Open Door Youth Refuge last week dressed a beautiful Christmas tree in its Taree house to make it feel more like a home to the young people who seek shelter.
Last year, more than 100 young people obtained help from its outreach team but according to Samaritans Foundation support worker, Jacqui Keith, the numbers of youth seeking help is on the rise.
"We have already assisted more than 70 young people this financial year and we are only halfway through the year," Jacqui explained.
"The most common reasons for seeking assistance are family breakdown and financial difficulties.
"Young people may stay with numerous friends for short periods of time, also known as couch surfing, and unfortunately this contributes to the under-representation of young people who are experiencing homelessness and they tend to go unnoticed in our local community."
The Open Door Youth Refuge is just one of seven services provided by the Samaritans to local families and individuals in crisis. It also funds the Taree and Forster Brokerage Service, Tenancy Support Service, Samaritans Emergency Relief Service, Disability Services and Day Programs, Mid North Coast Gambling Service and Samaritans Financial Counselling.
Last year more than 200 individuals and families tapped into the resources of the Taree and Forster Brokerage Service and were helped with crisis accommodation, tenancy issues, referral to emergency relief services.
"The service has assisted more than 150 individuals and families already this year with an increase expected over the Christmas break," Jacqui said.
Another vital service is the Samaritans Emergency Relief.
It provides food parcels, clothing and financial options support and aims to assist people dealing with immediate crisis situations, in a way that maintains their dignity and with a future view of empowering individuals to become self-reliant.
Mr Bosmans is urging the community to "give generously and support those less fortunate this Christmas."
"We're grateful to all those who can support Samaritans with cash donations to reach our target this Christmas," he said.
Donations can be made to Samaritans on 1300 656 336 or www.samaritans.org.au/donate