It has been a challenging 2020 for Anna (name has been changed), who was burdened with mounting debt and faced the possibility of her two children not being able to celebrate Christmas this year.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do this Christmas,” she says. “The day is not that far away and my debt is not going down. The conversations with my children, and the promotions on television and in the shops were constantly reminding me that the festive season is around the corner.”
“I was already going to the Communities@Work’s community pantry when things were extra tight for us at home. When I found out they could help make things special for us at Christmas, too, I felt a huge relief and cried in the car feeling grateful that my family will be able to celebrate it.”
Communities@Work, a not-for-profit organisation, supports members of the community such as Anna who are facing a challenging time by giving them the opportunity to access food and gifts so they don’t miss out on Christmas.
It also supports those who have been affected by COVID-19, people who are on a fixed government income and use community pantries regularly, and those who find it tough from time to time.
Every year in December, the Communities@Work Christmas appeal to the community provides families and individuals with gifts, food and support to help them cope with the pressure they feel during this time of year.
Ruth Zanker, director of social programs and volunteering at Communities@Work, says the organisation gave out 1400 gifts and 350 packages of food in its 2019 Christmas Appeal.
“This year, we see the need being even greater,” she adds.
Ruth is thankful for the generosity of schools, businesses, groups and individuals who are doing their bit to help others in the community.
“The amount of thought that goes into what they choose to donate fills my heart,” she says. “For some people facing hardship, the gift they collect from us will be the only present they will receive. For others, it means there is a gift under the tree for their children.
“Donating is a great way of showing the community that you are there for them and making someone else’s Christmas special. Every donation, no matter how small, will bring someone joy and make a difference to their day.
“Those who come to us for help can choose a gift for themselves and their family from the Christmas rooms located at our two centres. These rooms are beautifully decorated and have Christmas music and lights to make the experience special. This year, people will also receive a Canberra Relief Centre hamper, a voucher to use at Coles or Woolworths, and a choice of fun Christmas food in our community pantries.”
Donations such as food items, money, gifts or toys for adults and children can be made directly to Communities@Work’s Gungahlin and Tuggeranong centres.
Closer to Christmas, some of Canberra’s shopping centres will be setting up giving trees to collect donations for Communities@Work. Visit here for locations.
Meanwhile, school groups, hobby groups, businesses and government departments can register on Communities@Work’s website to host their own giving trees. Hosting has been made easy with a handy toolkit available featuring all the resources a host needs.
For more information on how Communities@Work provides essential community support, visit here.