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Online group gets in the Christmas spirit

AAP logoAAP 17/12/2016 Marnie Banger

Giving something to people in need has long been a Christmas tradition, but Facebook groups are changing how some spread the goodwill.

Pay It Forward Adelaide, one of several South Australian groups that connects people that have goods to spare with those who need them, has experienced a big surge in activity.

Old and new toys, canned foods and even invitations to family dinners have been offered on the page to make the season easier for those doing it tough.

Most offers have been gratefully accepted, with the exchanges guided by the group's simple rules for keeping things fair.

Cassie Stansfield, one of the group's administrators, says its membership has grown to 10,000 in just over a year and while they have capped the number for now, requests to join keep flowing in.

She says it can be an easier way for people who are struggling to get things they need at Christmas without the need to connect with the more traditional charities.

"Maybe not everyone knows how to get in contact with those organisations to then get on their lists," she told AAP.

Ms Stansfield said one member had been buying items, mostly for kids, that were on sale throughout 2016 to create 75 Christmas hampers.

She concedes there is a potential for the group to be misused - with people picking up goods and selling them - but said members keep an eye out for dodgy behaviour.

The popularity of the forum comes as the Salvation Army in SA has had a "noticable decline" in food, toy and cash donations for its Christmas Appeal.

But the organisation attributes the fall to the significant pressures many individuals and families are facing that are often compounded at Christmas.

"Loss of jobs, reduced hours and economic concerns are all contributing factors," the organisation's Rod Reeve said.

Mr Reeve said there were many options for people wanting to donate, but they needed to be sure their donations would be used as intended.

"By donating to one of the major charity organisations like The Salvation Army there is security for the donor that the donation will be used where it is needed most in supporting the disadvantaged and marginalised in the community," he said.

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