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UC volunteers create holiday hampers for students in need

Danielle Meddemmen

10 December 2020: The team behind the UCX Food Pantry will pack 200 holiday hampers for students in need this Christmas, thanks to generous donations from the University of Canberra community.

Aimed at helping students through the holiday period, the hampers will provide pantry staples for a few meals, along with Christmas treats like candy canes and gingerbread.

Director of UCX Sarah Jennett said the hampers were going to students who needed them most over this time.

“The Food Pantry is only closing down for two Thursdays – Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve – so predominantly we will continue seeing students who have been regular users of the service,” she said.

“The hampers are designed to help students out through that period when we would normally have provisions for them.”

The hampers will be packed by a team of volunteers on 9 December. The hampers will contain items donated by the University community; they have also been supplemented with staff donations.

Students who have registered to receive the hampers will be invited to pick theirs up next week, before the UCX Food Pantry closes for the Christmas period from 17 December to 7 January.

While many local charities have reported a lull in donations this Christmas, Ms Jennett said the team at UCX had been overwhelmed by the generosity of the University community.

“It’s been really nice to see donations come in from the staff, particularly for the hampers. We also have things like the student-led University of Canberra Nursing Society – they hold fundraising drives and provide us with non-perishable items as well as personal hygiene products,” she said.

“We have been really fortunate this year and have been able to provide a consistent level of support for the students.”

The University’s Centre for Labour Market Research Director, Emeritus Professor Phil Lewis, said that economic research into donations could explain the University community’s generosity.

“It might be much more efficient to give the Food Pantry money to buy exactly what they need, but it’s the giving of the goods – and knowing that it will go to someone who needs it – that gives the donor that pleasure.”

“It may seem illogical in a way, but if you give a parcel of food you can see it goes to someone that’s hungry – even if you never see them, there’s a connection,” he said.

Further donations are welcome, and can be made into the charity buckets located across campus or at the UCX office (1C28) at any time.

The Food Pantry will reopen from 7 January, as many students will remain on campus over the summer break, due to changing travel restrictions. It is open to all students.