Ngunnawal Street Pantry providing formal dresses so everyone feels special this festive season

Lottie Twyford 23 November 2021 14
Back of woman from Ngunnawal Street Pantry

Ngunnawal Street Pantry provides year-round assistance to people who need it, including during the holiday season. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

When Ngunnawal Street Pantry founders Margaret and Paul McGrath put out a post on Facebook on Friday, 19 November, calling for donations of formal dresses for year 10 and year 12 girls who couldn’t afford them, they weren’t expecting the sheer scale of the response they got.

Within only a couple of days, their suburban lounge room was transformed into a dressing room fit for a queen (or many princesses, perhaps).

Paul says he’s now convinced their house is a Tardis, from Doctor Who, as he simply couldn’t believe how many dresses, pairs of shoes and accessories they were able to fit in there.

Canberrans were more than willing to help upon learning of the plight of a number of young girls who said they simply couldn’t afford a new dress, but really wanted to attend their school formal.

“Lots of people have said to us they wished a service such as this existed when they were going to their own formal as they weren’t able to go themselves,” says Paul.

In fact, Ngunnawal Street Pantry received so many offers of dresses that they are now able to offer dresses to anyone at all who requires one, whether for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party, work event or family gathering this holiday season.

If people are interested in viewing, trying on or choosing a formal dress, Margaret asks that they book an appointment via the easy online booking system.

Lots and lots of dresses 🙂

Posted by Ngunnawal street pantries on Sunday, November 21, 2021

Initially, Margaret had asked people to book to drop off formal dresses they wanted to donate, but she was so overwhelmed by the community response to the donations that she had change it.

She says it can be a little overwhelming dealing with the influx of donations at this time of year, but she is still trying to manage all of the donations and the other day-to-day operations of the pantry in her usual way.

Margaret asks that people call out to her or ring the doorbell upon their arrival at 22 Bullala Court so she can check the donations before they are received.

Alternatively, she is happy to receive offers of help with sorting donations and the like.

Given Margaret has an injured arm and Paul is recovering from gout, both are keen to have a couple of extra helping hands to deal with the holiday influx.

READ ALSO: Keeping an eye on children when it comes to poverty in the ACT

Margaret and Paul established Ngunnawal Street Pantry from their home with the overarching philosophy that people should take when they need, and give when they could.

Margaret says many of the people she and Paul meet daily don’t actually need long-term support, which can be provided by charities such as Red Cross or Vinnies.

Instead, she notes all it takes is for one missed week of work or an unexpected vet bill to crop up, and people suddenly need a bit of assistance to tide them over until they can make ends meet again.

Now they manage donations of clothes, shoes and other household goods from the community, as well as bread and other food that restaurants, supermarkets and cafes drop off when they no longer need it.

It all keeps Margaret and Paul busy, but both of them say they’ve been lucky in their lives and now want to share it with others.

You can book a Ngunnawal Street Pantry donation drop-off here.

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14 Responses to Ngunnawal Street Pantry providing formal dresses so everyone feels special this festive season
Kiri Wright Kiri Wright 11:56 pm 26 Nov 21

Is there a mailing address? I have a few on the south coast

Kimi Hall Kimi Hall 6:58 am 26 Nov 21

I have a bag of dresses but am in Queanbeyan. If anyone is keen on picking them up for me to deiver to ngunnaal for me.

Narelle Lambie Narelle Lambie 8:02 pm 25 Nov 21

Wonderful community

Assistance for those less fortunate- well done

Lizzie Danger Lizzie Danger 6:52 pm 25 Nov 21

Emma Konstantinou i def got some!

Burntout Bookings Burntout Bookings 11:01 pm 24 Nov 21

This is so great, hope they get all the donations they need and then some!

Ngunnawal street pantries Ngunnawal street pantries 9:25 pm 24 Nov 21

Paul McGrath here from the pantries and we are only able to do what we do through the amazing community support we receive. We owe a special debt of gratitude to Greg & Cecilia Marshall who run the food, mens and pet pantries. They started this journey shortly after we started and have been through everything with us. They are so helpful and generous with the time and efforts they put into the community. We also have many wonderful volunteers who help make what we do here a wonderful community hub which we hope is warm and welcoming to everybody with out judgement. Everyone is welcome we can both talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles. Life has been so kind to me I have had a full life and a beautiful wife if I can share my experiences and good fortune with other then I feel I’m obligated to do so. Sorry for the long comment. Really good article well written and thank you for your words.

    Ngunnawal street pantries Ngunnawal street pantries 9:48 pm 24 Nov 21

    Ngunnawal street pantries the four of us make a fantastic team, I’m proud to be apart of the NSP journey, and as you said if it wasn’t for our beautiful community we wouldn’t be able to help those in need

Nicole Maguire Nicole Maguire 9:24 pm 24 Nov 21

This is beautiful 🥰🥰🥰

Mon Mon Mon Mon 9:16 pm 24 Nov 21

Adore this - just wanted to let you know that they have posted that they are at capacity for formal dresses and are not accepting additional donations of these at the moment

    Brooke Austin Brooke Austin 9:38 pm 24 Nov 21

    Mon Mon oh I was just thinking about this today

    Mon Mon Mon Mon 10:26 pm 24 Nov 21

    Brooke Austin I didn’t get a chance to drop mine off either - I drove past twice without the dress in the car!

Helen Butcher Helen Butcher 9:04 pm 24 Nov 21

So proud of you both 🥰

Margaret Paul

Natalie Brown Natalie Brown 8:43 pm 24 Nov 21


Matt Elliston Matt Elliston 8:16 pm 24 Nov 21

What a brilliant initiative. Paul, Margaret and the others are great

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