Holiday Hampers Appeal: Bringing cheer to Canberra families

23 November 2016

Samantha Hayes

Samantha is a Tenancy Assistant with the YWCA Canberra Housing Support Unit

Have you read “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith? When I read it, I hated it, I felt so helpless.hh_logo_web

It is such a hard story about grinding, bleak poverty. Yet I read it all and I thought the family in the book, the Nolans, are like so many families the Housing Support Unit here at the YWCA Canberra help.

Maybe the stories of our families aren’t so raw, aren’t so elegantly described, but the spirit of desperate struggle is one we help our clients navigate.

In the book Katie, the mother of the family, saves a little money each day. No matter what happens, or how little food they have, she saves her money in a tin can nailed to the floor of the closet. She is saving up for land.

Katie knows owning a place to live will be the family’s ticket out of poor, run down, crowded apartment rentals.

After they save up a little money they have to spend it all on moving to an even poorer neighborhood due to Katie’s husband Johnny’s alcoholism.

After saving a little more money they must use it to move again as Katie’s sister’s behaviour begins to harm the family. Finally Johnny passes away and the money from the can pays only part of the cost for a funeral plot.

Katie eventually throws the can away as they own land now. That’s only one part of the story. Give it a read if you can find it.

This Christmas, YWCA Canberra is raising money to help the families we assist in our Housing Support Unit, and many other families doing it tough in our affluent city. The families we help remind me of the Nolans. They try so hard.

We are asking for donations to make lives here in Canberra a little easier, and I know so many organisations ask for donations at this time of year. Especially to help those less fortunate in the community.

Christmas gives us a good excuse to make a contribution, to remember the help given to a poor family expecting a baby in Bethlehem 2016 years ago, and to help new families now.

Talking babies at Christmas, the Housing Support Unit have been asked today to help house two very large families, with both mothers expecting any day. Problem is, even if we can help we only have room for one family.

It’s hard, it’s the Nolan family putting five cents in a tin each day. We work on, we build, we give, we are thankful. We thank you for your donation.

Hey, don’t be sad! Be glad, we are making a difference. I tell you we are.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Have you, like me, ever stalked other YWCA websites? The Brooklyn YWCA provides safe housing for women and families too! It’s beautiful to know the Y is helping all over the world.

The YWCA Canberra Holiday Hampers appeal is raising financial and in-kind donations to provide Canberra families with essential items and gifts. For more information visit our website, or contact Communications and Marketing Officer Eliza Hughes, at or 6175 9900.

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