The countdown to Christmas has begun.
However, for those facing financial challenges, Christmas can be anything but happy.
Often, it is a stressful time as cash-strapped parents try to work out how they can deliver for their children the sort of Christmas the vast majority of us take for granted.
Unfortunately, there are many people in our community who face these sorts of difficulties at Christmas time.
Samaritans, one of the region's biggest charities, assists about 5000 children from across the Hunter each year during the Christmas season - by distributing gifts, providing Christmas lunch and through other assistance services.
On Monday morning, I launched the annual Mayor's Christmas Appeal, run in partnership with Samaritans, which is one avenue people in our community can use to help to make life a little easier for people who are faced with financial challenges at this time of year.
We also welcome gifts for adults and teenagers, non-perishable foodstuffs, toiletries and other essential household items.
Samaritans tell me that gifts for older children and adults are always in short supply, and vouchers make excellent presents for people in these age groups.
Samaritans ask that gifts be unwrapped. Donations can be made at the Council Administration Centre, at Speers Point, or at our Lake Mac Libraries branches.
The appeal is open until 16 December.