As Christmas Day fast approaches, hundreds of RSL Queensland staff and volunteers are making sure the festive spirit is well and truely felt across the state by delivering more than 630 hampers to deserving veterans and their families.
Following the initiative’s inception in 2020, RSL Queensland has rolled out its largest state wide Christmas hamper drive yet again to recognise those who have gone above and beyond for their community while providing a sense of connection for those feeling isolated or facing hardship.
With the aim of offering meaningful care and support for those who need it, hundreds of hampers will be delivered to veterans who are facing financial hardship, older veterans, war widows suffering from poor health, those experiencing homelessness and those who don’t have family close by.
Each hamper contains Christmas treats, gifts, essential food and supplies from Queensland and veteran owned businesses, as well as a $100 supermarket gift card to assist each veteran and their family in being able to enjoy a special Christmas meal.
RSL Queensland CEO Robert Skoda said the Christmas hamper drive goes beyond just delivering food and gifts and aims to ensure recipients feel seen, supported, and uplifted.
“It’s about telling people they matter, and that we’re here for them, particularly at Christmas time,” Skoda said.
“Our team is on the ground every day supporting veterans, and we know there are countless deserving veterans in the community who are worthy of recognition.
“We are continuing to see our Christmas hamper drive extend across all corners of the state – having now almost tripled our reach since we began.
“It’s a testament to our network of passionate staff members and volunteers at local RSL Sub Branches who are committed to going the extra mile to make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families.”
One such veteran who is being recognised as part of the organisation’s hamper drive is 94 year old John Gubbins for his service in the Navy and his community spirit.
Described as a ‘Navy man to his bootstraps’, John served in the Australian Navy from 1945 to 1968, following in the footsteps of his father who lost his life in the sinking of the HMAS Perth during World War 2.
During his military career, John saw service in Korea, Malaya, Borneo, and Vietnam, as well as a 12-month posting to the USA commissioning a new ship.
Following John’s service in the Navy, his family relocated to Tamworth and worked in farming for 37 years, before settling in Maroochydore.
When asked what his favourite items in the Christmas Hamper was, both John and his wife Betty agreed that it was “everything”.