Bendigo cafe Crooked Kitchen prepares for annual Christmas store

CROOKED Kitchen owner Tara Stojic was last year shocked by the popularity of the cafe’s Christmas store.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

People were queuing down the street when she arrived to open the Lyttleton Terrace store for the one-day event.

“It was flat out for about an hour-and-a-half,” Ms Stojic said.

With that experience in mind, she invited people to support this year’s event by donating.

The Christmas store is intended to help people in all situations enjoy Christmas by providing gifts, food, toiletries and other items.

Ms Stojic said people were welcome to drop off donations at the store, during trading hours, until December 15.

Her only request was for people to give items of a quality they would be happy to receive.

Suggestions included toys, books, non-perishable food, toiletries, and fruit cakes.

Crooked Kitchen aren't the only ones appealing for donations to help people in need enjoy the merriment of gift giving. Click the picture to read more.

Crooked Kitchen aren't the only ones appealing for donations to help people in need enjoy the merriment of gift giving. Click the picture to read more.

People also have the option of donating money, as they have done with the pay it forward campaign.

The campaign enables people who could not otherwise afford a meal to pick up a token at the door and eat for free.

A chalkboard fringed with donations attests to the popularity of the initiative.

Most of the gifts, food and toiletries Crooked Kitchen bought with the $3500 donated to the Christmas store last year were gone by the day’s end. 

What little was left over was donated to Bendigo Community Health Services. 

Ms Stojic said the initiative helped more than 100 families last year, and was unsure of what to expect this year.

She was fielding calls until about March from people hopeful there were donations left over.

The intention of the one-day initiative is to help families in all situations enjoy Christmas. 

Attendees are asked what kinds of products can best meet their needs, whether it’s a gift for an adult or a child, or food to cook a Christmas meal. 

They then get a choice from the range of donated goods, free of charge.

This year’s Christmas store is scheduled for December 16, between 10am – 2pm.