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Hampers of Hope bring joy to those facing food insecurity

A program supported by the City of Sydney is helping bring some festive support to those who need it most

  • There’s a special kind of energy that flows from good people collectively doing good work.

    And today, the air is thick with it. More than 40 volunteers are getting down to work at the Addison Road Community Centre, preparing to pack 1,000 hampers that will be sent to people suffering food insecurity this Christmas.

    Left: Pallets of food to be packed into hampers. Top right: A Hamper of Hope, ready for pick up. Bottom right: Volunteers wrap a finished hamper.

    Credit: Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
  • The Addison Road Community Centre, Addi Road to most, is a microcosm of Sydney multiculturalism.

    Since 1976, when this former army depot was handed over to the people of Sydney, it’s been a space where diverse communities come to support each other, to celebrate their cultures, share their stories, art, food and more.

    Addi Road also home to one of Sydney’s most vital food relief programs – proudly supported by the City of Sydney. During the pandemic it’s supported more than 8,000 people suffering from food insecurity.

    Addi Road has over 700 regular volunteers, 40 of them came together for the first day of packing this year's Hampers of Hope.

    Credit: Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
  • The 1,000 hampers being packed this week are not filled with the usual staples.

    Instead, they’re brimming with chocolates, gifts, toys, and other luxury items. “We’re filling these hampers with the kind of things many people can’t afford,” explains Addi Road CEO Rosanna Barbero. “With these hampers, we’re establishing a sense of belonging. We’re showing people that they’re cared for, that we’re not going to abandon them, that they’re not forgotten.”

    “Christmas is a period when there’s a lot of depression and loneliness, and a lot of angst in communities that are not able to provide for their children, that aren’t able to give gifts to their children,” says Barbero.

    Left: Addi Road CEO Rosanna Barbero keeps her volunteers fuelled. Right: Hampers of Hope await careful wrapping.

    Credit: Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
  • Each hamper is capped off with a handwritten note from one of the volunteers and carefully wrapped.

    “Taking care, paying attention to detail, goes a really long way,” explains Michelle Flemming, one of the initiators of Hampers for Hope. “The people receiving these hampers have had a very tough year, and hopefully they feel that other people are thinking about them.”

    Michelle Flemming, centre, demonstrates how to wrap each hamper with care.

    Credit: Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
  • The diversity of the volunteers is as broad as the mix of communities which Addi Road supports.

    “Look around – this is multicultural Australia,” says Barbero.

    Monica Barone, City of Sydney CEO, agrees, “I think that’s one of the most exciting things I’m seeing here, the mix of the volunteers. The corporates are doing a terrific job by donating, the City of Sydney and Inner West Council are helping through donations or grants, but it’s the ability of the organisation to generate this support – people from right across the community, pitching in to help - that’s really remarkable. It’s a wonderful thing to see.”

    Rosanna Barbero, left, and City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone, right.

  • Refugees work alongside high school students and CEOs.

    “You don’t know where people are from, and it doesn’t matter, everyone is equal here,” says Lynette Foulkes from GHD, one of Addi Road’s corporate supporters.

    Foulkes is working in tandem with Mostafa ‘Moz’ Azimitabar. He wields the sticky tape, while she holds the cellophane in place. Azimitabar is a refugee who spent 9 years in an Australian detention centre. “I was locked up for 2,737 days but my message for the Australian people is love. Helping vulnerable people is our responsibility. If we help vulnerable people, we can learn and be helped by them.”

    Mostafa Azimitabar, left, and Lynette Foulkes, right.

    Credit: Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
  • For the volunteers, packing the hampers is also an opportunity to reconnect with likeminded people.

    Shamara Haque is the captain of Amity College, one of 12 student volunteers. “This year, we haven’t had the opportunity to take part in things like this. Being around other people working together to help the community, it’s heartwarming.”

    Shamara Haque, left, and Tuba Ozturk, Amity College Girls High School Student Leadership Coordinator

    Credit: Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
  • Some of the volunteers working on the Hampers of Hope have themselves been directly touched by the work that Addi Road does.

    “I’ve lived with food insecurity and I’m on a pension,” says Vivienne Moore. “I’ve received food boxes from both here and other organisations and I’m touched every time they deliver it. I feel like someone has seen me and cared for me.”

    “It takes extraordinary people to make this happen,” adds Tanya Lee. “Everyone’s pulled together. And that’s how we’re going to get through whatever we need to get through. It comes from the bottom up.”

    Addi Road volunteers Vivienne Moore, left, and Tanya Lee, right.

    Credit: Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney