For families struggling to make ends meet, Christmas is the tipping point that sees them ask for help so their kids can get at least one gift.

Hundreds of people are lining the streets outside the City Mission - some since midnight - as the festive season draws near and puts pressure on those who can barely put food on the table.

Fundraising team leader Alexis Sawyers said, "Christmas is a step too far for them".

"They have a choice of no Christmas, or coming to ask for help," she said.

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"It's hugely humiliating and it's not an ideal circumstance and it's certainly not something we like to see.

"But it's important their children aren't missing out."

The mission hands out thousands of food parcels every Christmas. File photo / Doug Sherring
The mission hands out thousands of food parcels every Christmas. File photo / Doug Sherring

One man in the queue said he wanted food for himself, so he could afford to give to his family during the festive season.

"I'm in desperate need of a food parcel, no money left, or I won't be able to buy presents for my family and they are important to me."

Another man who had been in the queue since 8.30am, said it was his first time asking for help.

"I'm really anxious to see what they are going to give, especially for the kids, Christmas presents and food bundles, mainly the presents."

He expressed his thanks to the City Mission for helping families in need.

"It's been a great help to us."

Sawyers said the presents came from public donations - and the mission needed more.

A donation of $65 would give a family of four enough to eat over Christmas, and donations of new and unwrapped children's gifts could be dropped off at the mission, or at a library.

The appeal
The mission's annual Christmas appeal is running until January 15, 2018.
• 80 per cent of the mission's operating costs are funded by donations.
• The mission needs help to provide 8000 children with presents this Christmas.
• Last year the mission distributed almost 13,000 emergency food parcels to individuals and families in need. Of those, 4000 were distributed in December.

Click here to find out how to donate