I am delighted today to rise to let the Assembly know about nine-year-old Jessica, who attends Burgmann Anglican School in Gungahlin. I welcome Jessica, her mum and dad John and Carla, and also members from Communities@Work, who members will know well, and Mark Scarborough from My Gungahlin.
About three years ago Jessica’s mum wanted to get rid of some of her clothes that no longer fitted and were taking up space. A little reluctant to part with some of the items, a deal was done between Jessica and her mum that they would sell the items, and some of the pocket money raised could be gifted to people in need. The clothes were sold through the My Gungahlin buy, sell and wanted Facebook group, and the money raised was split in half—half went to her gift tin and the other half would be split into Jessica’s savings and spending tins.
Over the years Jessica has donated to a whole range of charities. Her gifting has included buying friends something small she knows they would like, donating money to the school on charity days, purchasing new football boots for a remote school as part of her school’s fundraisers, and donating to the Fred Hollows Foundation because she wanted kids around the world to be able to play basketball just like her.
One day Jessica met a lovely lady called Cas from Communities@Work, who told her about what Communities@Work do in their community. She was so inspired that she went through her toys and clothes and started selling even more of what she did not need online. I actually think her mum might have done a lot of that work for her.
Jessica’s drive to help Communities@Work community pantry largely came from the fact that Cas had taken the time to explain to her how it worked, and she got to see firsthand people needing the items that she had bought.
Jessica did a great job gathering up items to sell. She even organised a garage sale, and with the money raised Jessica and her mum headed off to the supermarket and filled a trolley with more than 100 items of food, basic household items and snacks for school lunches. Jessica also asked people to drop off non-perishables, which added to the groceries she purchased.
All up, Jessica has donated $455 worth of groceries to the Communities@Work community pantry in Gungahlin to help people throughout the ACT. Jessica’s mum says it is a win-win-win-win situation all round—the house gets decluttered, families can purchase items at very affordable prices, the community pantry receives much-needed items and Jessica still has her own pocket money. She is now working on a big Christmas donation, which I have no doubt will be very well received.
The community pantry is one of Communities@Work’s social programs and provides up to 5,000 food and essential items every single week to people in need. I think it is important for us all to remember that even though we have a higher than average standard of living here in the ACT and high average incomes, there are many people who struggle and who need a helping hand. That is why programs such as the community pantry are so important.
Communities@Work says Jessica’s donation was both inspirational and beneficial to the Gungahlin community. Her dedication and community spirit is an inspiration to staff at Communities@Work and all who hear her story. The Gungahlin community pantry is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm, and it is located at the back of the Communities@Work community centre at 47 Ernest Kavanagh Street in Gungahlin. As well as non-perishable food items, Communities@Work appreciates donations of personal hygiene items, including deodorant, feminine hygiene products, dental care and toilet paper. Such items meet a very practical need but also help to build confidence and ensure dignity. Financial donations are also always welcome and enable purchasing of perishable items such as dairy foods, which are vital in a healthy diet. Good quality work wear and special event clothing are always needed and highly appreciated.
I would like to thank Communities@Work for setting up the community pantry and for their tireless work promoting equality and supporting people in need across our community. I thank, in particular, Lynne Harwood, Kim Bull and Chris Barry for coming in this afternoon as well and to all your team for the great work that you do. I would also like to recognise the great work of Mark Scarborough from My Gungahlin.
Thank you, Mark, also for coming in today. He helps keep our community connected in a new way every day.
Of course, I would like to thank Jessica and her mum and dad for their very thoughtful donations which really help people in our community and highlight just how wonderful it is to live in a city like Canberra where people look out for one another.
Communities@Work has a vision for a resilient and socially inclusive community that cares for the wellbeing of all, as does, of course, the ACT government. Jessica, in particular, demonstrates that you do not have to be big to make a big impact. It is just great to see all people—young and old—coming together to build better futures for everyone. I hope Jessica keeps looking for ways to help people in our community and inspire people in this place and beyond.