2 December 2021

'Pack the bus' with gifts for those in need this Christmas

| James Coleman
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Santa and bus

Santa aboard the bus. Photo: Transport Canberra.

There’ll be a bus pulling up at locations all over Canberra next week. This may not sound like news, but this isn’t just any bus. Bus 702 is basically a Christmas tree on wheels.

Transport Canberra, MIX106.3 and Communities@Work are getting on board together this festive season by packing a bus with essential food items and toys for kids of families in need.

The bus, with its festive-themed wrap, will hit the roads from Monday (6 December) for two weeks and will be driving around the region, stopping at several businesses and inviting the community to ‘pack the bus’ with non-perishable items for those in need. Canberra radio station MIX 106.3 will be broadcasting live from the bus.

Santa and his helpers will collect donated goods from registered workplaces, retail outlets and schools every weekday over the two-week period between 9 am to 3 pm. These goods will form the backbone of this year’s Communities@Work Christmas Appeal.

Communities@Work Director of Social Programs and Volunteering Ruth Zanker said working together with the community to make a difference is at the heart of what they do.

You won’t be able to miss this bus. Photo: Transport Canberra.

“Last year, we had over 70 organisations join our appeal and set up ‘Giving Trees’ to collect food and gift donations on our behalf,” said Ms Zanker.

During the year, Communities@Work provides people with free food and hygiene items, pays for bus tickets and medical scripts, provides showers, shower packs, information and referrals, and other practical means of assistance.

Over Christmas, their campaign normally takes the form of a specially decorated Christmas room in the Gungahlin and Tuggeranong Community Centres, stocked with donated food and gifts. Current clients of their pantry services are then invited to visit and choose something from the donated items.

Last Christmas, Communities@Work assisted over 1,100 individuals with 1,006 food hampers.

“This year, we’ll be able to help hundreds more individuals and families in need. 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,” Ms Zanker said.

Giving tree

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

Transport Canberra Executive Branch Manager Ian McGlinn said that COVID-19 has impacted all Canberrans in one way or another, and they wanted to play a part in helping out.

“Many people are still balancing working from home and the office, so we have partnered with MIX106.3 to make it easier for Canberrans to drop their donated gifts and food items somewhere local,” Mr McGlinn said.

“We want to make sure we reach as many locations as possible over the two-week period.”

Many Transport Canberra bus drivers are already renowned for donning beards, tinsel and red suits to bring some joy to passengers over the Christmas period, something Mr McGlinn says all the staff look forward to.

All the bus stop locations can be found on the MIX 106.3 website. If you can’t make it to one of the bus’s locations, you can also take your donations (toys or non-perishable food) to Transport Canberra depots for collection.

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