Santa arrives in Gungahlin with gifts for the community

Santa has embraced 2019 transport options, ditching chimneys for light rail as his preferred mode of arrival for delivering gifts for families in need. On the morning of 6 December 2019, Canberra showed true Christmas spirit as Santa, Mrs Claus and Santa’s helpers arrived at Gungahlin Village on the light rail, laden with bags of donations from generous Gungahlin Village customers and Canberra Metro Operations employees.

Assisted by Suzanne Orr MLA, Minister for Community Services and Facilities, Santa delivered his much-needed gifts to Communities@Work. These gifts serve as Christmas donations to Canberra’s vulnerable and disadvantaged, and those who may otherwise miss out on celebrating Christmas. Gungahlin Village is one of several centres around Canberra to support the community with Christmas gift donations by hosting a Giving Tree for Communities@Work to collect non-perishable food, gifts and toys for those in need.

Gungahlin Village is one of several centres around Canberra to support the community with Christmas gift donations by hosting a Giving Tree for Communities@Work to collect non-perishable food, gifts and toys for those in need.

A United Community 

Minutes before Santa’s arrival at the Gungahlin Village Light Rail Stop, 9News Canberra interviewed our Director for Social Programs & Volunteering, Ruth Zanker, who explained that the Christmas gift donations from Santa would be used to stock the Communities@Work Christmas caves. Talking about the Christmas caves, she explained, “What we’ve learned over the years is that we really want to be able to meet needs. So, rather than just handing out gifts and hoping it does good, we want people to come in and choose their own gifts and the food that they need [at the Christmas caves]. Build your own hamper, as it were, and really get what they need over Christmas.”

Minister for Community Services and Facilities Suzanne Orr showed her support for the Communities@Work Christmas Appeal by stating, “The response to the Communities@Work Christmas Appeal is a sign of Canberra’s generosity and commitment to helping out those who need it most. I am looking forward to supporting the great work that communities at work are doing in partnership with a lot of organisations including Canberra Metro, to support those people in our community who need a little bit extra support at Christmas time.

Canberra Metro Operations General Manager Tilo Franz said that the organisation was proud to support the drive for donations for Christmas gifts.  “Canberra Metro Operations has had an ongoing relationship with Communities@Work Gungahlin and the broader Gungahlin community over the past three years. So we thought it was only fitting that Communities@Work were the charity we supported this Christmas. All our gifts were kindly donated by employees and contractors from Canberra Metro and Transport Canberra & City Services and we were delighted to play Santa’s helpers.”

Bri Nix, Centre Manager for Gungahlin Village, stated that supporting the local community is a priority for both the Centre and its customers.

“It takes a village to support each other and what a wonderful village to be a part of in our local Gungahlin community”, Ms Nix said. “Our shoppers are always telling us they love our connection to the community, so this Christmas Gungahlin Village, with the support of our shops, offices and customers, are collecting donations for Communities@Work community pantry and Rainbow Paws who work together to provide much needed and appreciated support to those who need it. The giving trees are located outside Coles Gungahlin and people can make a donation any time before Christmas Eve”.

A Canberra Christmas

Christmas donation of gifts to support the community at Gungahlin Canberra

Communities@Work has a strong and proud history of partnering with local businesses and community and charity groups to provide essential support for the vulnerable and disadvantaged in Canberra. Community partners donate food, clothing and money, or provide free or discounted services. And at Christmas many host giving trees and display collection bins.

Our Christmas Appeal is a key component of our essential support services. We collect donations of non-perishable food items and gifts to support the many individuals, families and children experiencing domestic or family violence, homelessness or financial or emotional challenges. Last year the Canberra community donated 4,284 food items and 1,828 gifts and toys.

“The Christmas season is often the time many people experience the greatest distress at being unable to provide food on the table for their Christmas meal or gifts under the tree for their family”, said Communities@Work CEO, Lee Maiden.

“We provide an opportunity for these individuals and families to visit our ‘Christmas Caves’ at the Tuggeranong and Gungahlin Community Centres and select the food items and gifts to create their own personalized Christmas hampers to bring home for their families. This allows people to do their ‘Christmas shopping’ in a dignified and positive way, relieving their financial and emotional stress and ensuring they don’t miss out on Christmas.”

Ms Maiden explains the deep satisfaction gained from helping families in need. “The other week, a mother came to us for help, struggling to send her daughter to school as she couldn’t afford to buy petrol or school lunches. We assisted her with food, information on additional support services and several outfits from our clothing program for her job interviews”.

“She was so grateful for our support – you couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. It made her feel ‘rich’, gave her renewed confidence to successfully apply for jobs, and relief to know that we’ll continue to support her over the holiday season until she gets back on her feet. We’ve also invited her to collect some gifts from our Christmas Cave”.

“This is the difference we can make, and the people we can help, through the wonderful support of the public and our community partners like Gungahlin Village, Canberra Metro Operations, Food Bank, local grocery stores and many, many more. When the local community works together to support fellow Canberrans – that’s the true spirit of Christmas.”

Get involved with our Christmas Appeal and Support the Canberra community today!

Listen to the full interview with ABC Radio at the event:

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