The candle burns down on 2021. All of a sudden Christmas and the New Year are with us again. And with Omicron comes that sinking feeling, not a lot has changed as the pandemic continues to affect our lives. Yet this time of year still stirs optimism, a ritual desire to reach for a better world. Sometimes small steps and tiny actions can become the most powerful tools we have.
Last year at Christmas time the Addison Road Community Organisation launched the #HampersofHope project. The idea was to create gift hampers for people in need and to brighten this time of year, to be truly ‘inclusive’ in spirit and action. Our target was 1,000. They contained treats, make-up, small gifts, chocolates, all the things you’d expect in a gift hamper from fine cooking oil to frisbees!
As it turned out we made over 1,100 hampers as more groups asked to be involved. Not every ‘Hamper of Hope’ was the same, but we tried to make sure each one was truly a gift. Inevitably, every person who helped said they got more out of it than anything they might have given.
Volunteers flocked to put them together, people who are surely our greatest resource; corporates and businesses donated generously; individuals gave financial support through our website; celebrity, sports and media figures put their energy behind what was happening, publicising #HampersofHope and giving time to pack the hampers. A plethora of charities and civil society groups then collected them to distribute to their communities. It was a great coming together.
The team from Twenty10 receive their 2020 Hampers of Hope from Addi Road’s Rosanna Barbero, Mark Mordue and Craig Foster. Photo: Supplied.
Monday to Friday, 13-17 December, it will be happening again. #HampersofHope 2021.
The event builds on our more usual work making food hampers for people who are in need all over Sydney and beyond. We’ve been doing that work five days a week, every week, inside our Gumbramorra Hall, which we repurposed as the Addi Road Food Relief Hub back in March 2020. As lockdowns, health issues, rent struggles and employment shakeouts followed, the problem of keeping food on the table has remained a central concern.
Addi Road volunteers gather for #HampersofHope in Gumbramorra Hall, Marrickville. Photo: Supplied.
We prefer the term ‘food justice’ to ‘food relief’ as we think helping people to eat reveals something deeply amiss with how our society is structured in the wake of COVID-19. A question needs to be asked repeatedly: why are so many charity and community groups, powered by just a handful of individuals and a host of volunteers, having to fill a huge gap where the government should be acting? Why are so many people out there going hungry and fighting to keep a roof over their heads?
What each of us can do varies. But never let it be said individuals can’t change things. The original idea for Hampers of Hope began with Craig and Lara Foster, a family action. Their friends Michelle Fleming and Gill Larkins, CFO of ASX, joined them to step up their annual gesture and work with Craig on teaming up with Addi Road. Last year was the first explosion of that goodwill.
Craig notes how “people struggling can feel ashamed at this time of year. And they should not have to feel ashamed”. It’s not just what is in the hampers, it is the recognition and communication they symbolise. A Hamper of Hope can “show a little love to people,” he says. Addi Road CEO Rosanna Barbero agrees.
“If this was a fairy tale like Santa’s Little Helpers and there really was a workshop with elves, a place where a moment of joy is being created to delight young people and make parents and individuals happy, then that place on earth would be Gumbramorra Hall in the week we do Hampers of Hope.”
For more information on #HampersofHope, please go to www.addiroad.org.au.