Demand for Adelaide charity providing essentials for children rising week after week

A single mother of three boys, Donna knows what it’s like to need a helping hand in tough times.

Finding herself unexpectedly pregnant in her early 40s while grieving the deaths of family members, including her father, left her feeling overwhelmed.

“It was a surprise pregnancy, and then dealing with grief at the time I found out I was pregnant made it a bit hard to get everything organised like I did for my other children,” she said.

Adelaide-based charity Treasure Boxes delivered an array of essential items for her new baby, including a cot, clothes, toys and nappies.

The charity supports families facing hardship like poverty or homelessness, often as a result of fleeing domestic violence.

Its founder and CEO, Rikki Cooke, said demand for the services was increasing every week.

“We’re seeing an increase in demand on the street, domestic violence and homelessness rates are rising,” she said.

“Last year we saw an 88 per cent increase in domestic violence referrals through to us here at Treasure Boxes, we saw a 46 per cent rise in homelessness, and they do tend to correlate with each other.

“We’re finding the demand is just rising week after week after week, which is devastating when you think about how many families in South Australia really need some support.

“We know there are about 23,500 children living under the poverty line, but on the other hand, it’s fantastic that we’re recognising these families and we can do something about it.”

Donna and her children when the goods from Treasure Box arrived. (



Donations of essential supplies ‘priceless’

For recipients like Donna, the donations can be a lifeline.

“Everything’s so costly, and yeah, I think everyone’s struggling a bit, no matter where you are, so I think having services like this does really help a lot,” Donna said.

“You never know when you could be in that situation. So make sure you keep supporting organisations like Treasure Boxes, because I think if we didn’t have those, a lot of people and kids would miss out.

The volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation is currently seeking donations of big items like cots and change tables.

“We always receive enough donations of things like clothing, linen, toys, nappies, which is fantastic because they’re the really high-demand items,” Ms Cooke said.

“But things that are also in demand that we don’t receive enough of are cots, and we’ll pass out between 10 and 20 cots a week, which means that there’s 10 to 20 newborns a week that don’t have a safe place to sleep.

“So things like cots, bassinets, baby capsules, change tables, we really need those all the time.”

A woman holding a wooden toy plane
Treasure Boxes founder and CEO Rikki Cooke.(

Facebook: Treasure Boxes


Another charity, The Hospital Research Foundation, provided a funding lifeline to Treasure Boxes when the COVID pandemic hit last year.

It has now provided a $65,000 grant to help the organisation meet demand.

“We’ve provided a grant in two parts, one is a partnership grant to ensure the business can thrive going forward and grow to meet its requirements in the community, the other is a new-start grant that helps young families, young mums particularly, who have nothing when their baby arrives,” the foundation’s CEO Paul Flynn said.

“There are organisations like Treasure Boxes that our community supporters like to see us getting involved with to ensure that we collectively make the biggest impact in the community that we can.”

Calls to pay it forward and donate

Donna is urging others doing it tough to seek support.

“Reach out, ask people for help, there’s no shame in asking for help, it’s more of a shame if you don’t,” she said.

Donna said the Treasure Box CEO dropped the items off at her house, because she does not drive.

The mother of three plans on paying it forward.

“I’ll be donating my stuff back when I’ve finished with it, I’ve already got bags of it, so we can donate back to them or pay it forward because that’s previously what I would have always done, pay it forward and donate my stuff.

“I have no hesitation in giving it back. I think other people should go, check out your sheds, and give back to Treasure Boxes and give it to the people, the kids that need it.”

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