Giving Canberrans a helping hand at Christmas

Communities@Work 15 November 2021
Canberra Metro Operations, Gungahlin Village and Santa teamed up to collect donations for the Communities@Work Christmas Appeal.

Canberra Metro Operations, Gungahlin Village and Santa teamed up to collect donations for the Communities@Work Christmas Appeal. Photo: Communities@Work.

Christmas is coming and there’s excitement in the air. After months of lockdowns and travel restrictions, people are eagerly waiting to catch up with their family and friends at Christmas.

Some are already taking trees out of storage, dusting off decorations, and compiling gift lists.

But in our excitement, we need to remember that Christmas may not be a time of joy for everyone.

Some people are struggling financially – perhaps for the first time – and won’t enjoy a Christmas meal and gifts under the tree without a helping hand from charity and community groups.

One of the charity groups ready to help Canberra’s largest community organisation, Communities@Work – have launched their Christmas Appeal and is inviting the Canberra community to give vulnerable community members a helping hand.


READ ALSO: Malhotra’s Helping Hands gets its own restaurant and function centre to help struggling Canberrans


Director of social programs and volunteering, Ruth Zanker, said the Christmas Appeal is the highlight of the organisation’s community support initiatives, epitomising its mission to enrich people’s lives.

“This is the heart of what we do. Last year, we had over 70 organisations across Canberra join our appeal and set up Giving Trees to collect food and gift donations on our behalf. We were overwhelmed with the community’s generosity. Together, we helped hundreds of families,” Ruth explains.

“You can’t underestimate the positive impact that generosity has on someone worried about how to make ends meet or how to tell their children they won’t have a gift this Christmas. When we invite our clients to come in to fill their hampers with food and gifts, many of them are moved to tears of joy.

“I remember one client who came to us very distressed. Her husband had just lost his job before Christmas and, as she wasn’t employed either, they were concerned about how they would make it through,” Ruth recalls.

“She walked away from our centre with a hamper, a lighter heart, and peace of mind knowing that not only would her family look forward to a happy Christmas again, but that we would provide her with ongoing support. The look of gratitude on her face summed up why we do this appeal.”

Ruth says Communities@Work were expecting an increase in demand for help this Christmas.

“COVID widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots, we’re hearing more and more often that people didn’t expect this to happen to them.”

Last year, Communities@Work joined with individuals, schools, businesses, community groups, shopping centres and government departments to help more than 1100 people at Christmas and give out more than 1000 food hampers.

Canberra Labour Club were one more than 70 organisations hosting giving trees for Communities@Work.

Canberra Labor Club is one of more than 70 organisations hosting giving trees for Communities@Work. Photo: Communities@Work.

Ruth says that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you give, every donation impacts someone’s life.

“We get everything from government departments holding major fundraisers for us, shopping centre customers filling up trolley loads of donations, children running donation drives at their schools, down to groups of neighbours throwing in a little extra from their shopping trips. We value every can, every packet, every toy. Every little bit helps.

“This year, we’re super excited to be partnering with Canberra radio station MIX106.3 on their new Christmas initiative, which will launch at the end of November. Stay tuned for more details.”

There are several ways you can get involved in the Communities@Work Christmas Appeal, with expanded options for virtual giving this year to help keep everyone safe. There’s even a handy online toolkit to help you run your donation drive.

  • Donate money
  • Send a gift card
  • Host a virtual Giving Tree to collect online donations
  • Host a traditional Giving Tree to collect food and gifts
  • Order donations online and get them delivered to Communities@Work
  • Shop online through Shopnate, Australia’s No. 1 good-cause shopping platform, where a percentage of your purchases goes to Communities@Work
ACT Brumbies players lent a hand during last year’s Christmas Appeal, sorting and wrapping donations.

ACT Brumbies players gave a hand during last year’s Christmas Appeal, sorting and wrapping donations. Photo: Communities@Work.

To find out more about the Christmas Appeal, visit Communities@Work.

Register here for the Communities@Work Christmas Appeal.

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