9 March 2023

Hands Across Canberra launches Canberra Day appeal, seeking $1 million for local charities

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Hands Across Canberra helps hundreds of small local charities each year. Photo: Liv Cameron.

$100 can make a huge difference. $1000 even more. Even $20 in funding is like gold for the many small Canberra charities that will benefit from the Canberra Day appeal on Monday, 13 March.

Hands Across Canberra (HAC) launched its fourth annual appeal on International Women’s Day (8 March) with many of their hundreds of charity partners – the not-for-profits across Canberra who are on the frontlines helping locals.

CEO Peter Gordon noted that 85 per cent of all charity donations made here still leave Canberra for large national and international charities.

“If you live here, you give here,” he said.

“We need to change not how much people give, but where and how they give. This is our fourth appeal, we’re getting better and better at it, but we don’t do it for us. We do it for you.”

He appealed to everyone to work their networks for donations, citing the Strathnairn Charity House venture as a brilliant example of industry and businesses working together.

woman with microphone

Dr Yvonne Luxford, CEO of the Perinatal Wellbeing Centre. Photo: Liv Cameron.

The need was graphically illustrated by Lisa Wylde from Toora Women and Dr Yvonne Luxford, CEO of the Perinatal Wellbeing Centre.

“Toora Women have been in Canberra forever, doing their work in the background where it’s urgently needed, but if I asked you to raise your hand, I bet most of you have never heard of us,” Lisa said.

“We help some of the most vulnerable women in Canberra who are escaping domestic violence, homelessness and suffering from substance addiction. Those three things are often tightly tied together.”

READ ALSO Blood, sweat and remarkable generosity – what the Strathnairn Charity House really represents

Noting the “huge” increase in domestic violence reporting during the pandemic, Lisa said a $100 donation, matched by HAC, could provide a week of simple meals for a woman. $150 provides warm bedding and blankets, $500 can help a family leaving everything behind in the middle of the night to escape domestic and family violence, and $1000 helps provide counselling for a woman who has experienced trauma.

Even the smallest donations make a huge difference for the Perinatal Wellbeing Centre, which provides support for expecting and new parents until their youngest child turns two. Services include telephone counselling, education, playgroups and workshops with free childcare for struggling parents.

But, Dr Luxford said, without funding, the centre had not even been able to provide an awning for parents struggling with newborns to shelter from the weather until recently.

“$1000 helps provide childcare for an entire group through a week,” she said. “Even $20 helps us to keep us in products for playgroups.”

Telephone counselling is a core service, but until Asset Construction Hire and the Leemhuis family helped with an appeal, the centre could not afford a new telephone system.

man and woman holding hand signs

HAC CEO Peter Gordon and communications manager Krishna Shukla. Photo: Liv Cameron.

Asset Construction Hire is the first Canberra Day Appeal naming sponsor. They were represented at the launch by longtime general manager Hunter Cocks, who spoke about the Leemhuis family’s dedication to supporting the local community.

“This is a fourth-generation [Canberra] family who arrived from the Netherlands 75 years ago and has been in Canberra for all of that time”, he told Region.

“We’re builders, we’ve built lots of things, and Darryl and Peter Leemhuis are committed to giving back to the community. That’s why they’ve partnered with Peter and Hands across Canberra,” he said.

“What we raise and earn here and generate in business stays here in Canberra. Darryl and Peter are passionate about using local suppliers all the time. They’re not interested in going where it’s cheaper.

“So, we want to help other Canberra organisations like this. And what better day to do it than International Women’s Day?”

READ ALSO Gungahlin community pleads for swifter action on police station woes

Incoming HAC chair Greg Boorer told Region the appeal was “off to a flying start”, with $500,000 already pledged.

“I do feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants,” he said, referencing longtime previous chair Di Kargas Bray.

“Our work over previous years has put us in good shape and I’m really confident we will reach our $1 million target.

“There’s a long weekend to think about, activities today and tomorrow to help us really mobilise the community.”

CEO Peter Gordon noted that HAC’s promise to match funds is part of the incentive to give. HAC’s local heroes program asks 100 businesses to support 100 charities by matching their donations so all funds double by the end of the appeal.

Charities work on their own fundraising targets supported by HAC and community members can donate to individual organisations or the overall appeal.

You can find more information here (and watch the funding total tick over!)

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