Pre-Christmas spirit is already alive and well within the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans ranks, with two of the club’s gentle giants, Ian Donnelly and Matthew White, today helping to launch the 2008 Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal.

New Jetstar Titans recruit White and Ballina-raised Donnelly helped kick-off the 21st annual Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal, Australia’s largest Christmas gift appeal, by donating a gift on behalf of the Jetstar Titans.

The appeal urges participants to place a gift, either wrapped or unwrapped, under the Christmas Wishing Tree located at the front of Kmart stores around the country.

The donated gifts are then collected by welfare organisations such as the Salvation Army and The Smith Family and distributed to people in need over the festive season.

Donnelly, who is preparing to embark on his third season in Jetstar Titans colours after switching from Melbourne Storm, urged people to get behind the Wishing Tree Appeal as organisers attempt to raise more than 350,000 gifts this year.

“The Wishing Tree Appeal is really for the people out there who are less fortunate than others at Christmas time,’’ said Donnelly.

“The general public can come in and buy presents and place them under the tree.’’

White, an Inverell junior who has recently joined the Jetstar Titans after spending four seasons with the Newcastle Knights, added: “It’s always good to come out and help out the kids by giving presents to those in need.’’

Salvation Army Community Services Supervisor Brian Surch said the Wishing Tree Appeal was an important part of the service provided by the organisation over the Christmas period and praised the Titans and other businesses for getting behind the concept.

“The Salvation Army, without the support of the Wishing Tree, wouldn’t be able to meet the commitment that it has to the public,’’ said Mr Surch.

“We have families of all walks of life that come to us seeking assistance because of the downturn in the economy.

“We’d like to be able to give something to families at Christmas time, especially the children so there’s hope for the future and hope for a better 2009.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s worth $1 or $10, we have the means to hand it out to someone that would really appreciate it and someone that may not necessarily get a gift without the provision of the gifts from here.

“The Titans are the Gold Coast team and they’ve supported us in the past through the Red Shield Appeal and other areas. We’re really grateful to have the Titans’ support as well as other business people and members of the public.’’

PICTURE: Matthew White (left) and Ian Donnelly.