In a joint Sharks and NRL One Community initiative, 30 children living with foster care families were treated to a Christmas party at Sharkies Leagues Club, with a handful of Sharks NRL squad members helping to make it a special occasion.
Arranged for foster care families operating under the organisation of Kari Aboriginal Resources (KARI), the children and their foster parents were treated to a Christmas dinner, as well as to a special appearance by ‘Santa’, aka Jonathan Wright, with the Sharks indigenous star having the honour of handing out presents to all in attendance.
Joining Wright for the evening were Todd Carney, Luke Lewis, Anthony Tupou, Sam Tagataese and Jaden Clarke, with KARI CEO Paul Ralph, in a letter to the Sharks expressing his gratitude to all concerned for their assistance on the night.
“May I say the Sharks players who gave up their time to attend on the night were absolutely magnificent and they are a real credit to your club,” Mr Ralph said. “Please note that Santa, alias Jonathan Wright, although obviously inexperienced in the role, e.g. pants falling down and one or two cuss words on the way to his chair, was a real hit with all the kids.”
“I would like to thank you and your excellent team for providing a most enjoyable experience for all of our children, their mums and dads and foster carers. It was obvious that your team had worked hard over the past few weeks to ensure that the evening would be a total success and it was,” he wrote.
“I must say that the interaction shown by your team and the players to all who attended was so well received.”
KARI was established in 1999 as a not-for-profit community organisation based at Liverpool in Sydney's South West. Founded with a vision to become a quality Aboriginal service provider to Aboriginal communities, the initial KARI program began with the recruiting and training of Aboriginal foster carers and a shared-care approach for Aboriginal children and young people requiring out of home care.
Since commencement the service has grown significantly in program delivery and service operation and is now recognised as being the largest accredited Aboriginal Children's Service in NSW.
Of the KARI guests on the night, one family from south western Sydney, in addition to their own two children, have cared for more than 300 foster children over the past 20 years.
The evening continued the successful partnership between the Cronulla club and KARI, one which yesterday saw the Sharks NRL Auckland Nines jersey unveiled, featuring the KARI logo on the front of the jersey.
Excited to be involved with the Sharks for the Nines extravaganza next February, KARI has already made plans to be sideline in support of the team next year.
“I am now looking forward to catching up with the squad in New Zealand re the Nines Competition as we will be sending over a supporter group from KARI to cheer on the team,” Ralph added.
In 2013 KARI also supported the Sharks during the Close the Gap rounds, with the Sharks twice wearing the KARI-emblazoned jersey in NRL matches.
The Sharks-KARI Christmas party was supported by the NRL’s One Community.