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Soul Cafe’s hampers offer people hope this festive season

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Christmas is a wonderful time of year for most people… but it can also be challenging for many others.

And, for the latter, Soul Café aspires to make a world of difference to them this festive season.

The Newcastle-based charity recently launched its 2022 Hampers of Hope Appeal, which will provide some heart to the city’s vulnerable and disadvantaged residents.

“We’ve been doing this for three years now in its current format,” general manager Matt Ortiger said.

“The idea [behind it] is that the community loves to support one another at Christmas.

“So, they provide us with hampers, we collect them and – over the Xmas period – we aim to assist those who require it [help] most.

“It’s a really tough time for vulnerable people because sometimes they don’t get to see family or go to parties like many of the rest of us do.

“But, it is also hard due to a lot of services shutting down over Christmas.

“So, accessing help if you need it during that period is difficult.

“We run the hamper program and, fingers crossed, in times that can be a bit up and down at Xmas, it brings a little ray of hope to vulnerable people.”

Locals are able to play their part in a couple of ways, as well.

They can download the Hampers of Hope shopping list – which includes canned goods, instant noodles, bottled water, Christmas bauble, a hygiene pack (soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste) and more – on the Soul Café website, put the items into a bag and drop them into the premises on the corner of Watt and Hunter streets before 15 December.

Or, simply make a financial donation.

Worryingly, Soul Café expects to have provided 52,000+ meals before 25 December rolls around.

“It’s sad that there’s some real deep needs in our community,” Mr Ortiger told the Newcastle Weekly.

“However, it is also gratifying that residents and businesses are so compassionate in response to the requirements of those in vulnerable circumstances.

“Last year, we gave out 1,400 hampers over a three-week period.

“However, we believe demand will be higher in 2022.

“Our guests are always happy to receive the hampers.

“In fact, it’s become a bit of an institution, so they know it’s coming.

“They’re already asking about them in November.

“For many of them, it’s welcome support, especially when the cost of living and everything else is rising.

“Upsettingly, for others, it’ll be the only gift they get this Christmas.

“That’s why we’re seeking very generous support.

“Everything that comes in, we’ll be able to use.

“Probably the biggest difference we’re finding at the moment is the depth and complexity of people’s needs.

“So, those numbers, in itself, are growing.

“The guests who come through Soul Café’s doors represent all walks of life… and they all have a story to share.

“But, the scary thing is the complexity of the difficult issues that vulnerable people are currently facing.

“If we can assist them in any way, that’s our main goal.”

Hampers of Hope 2022 shopping list

  • x 1 Baked beans (ring-pull can)
  • x 1 Spaghetti (ring-pull can)
  • x 2 Soups (ring-pull can)
  • x 1 Chunky stew (ring-pull can)
  • x 2 Instant noodle cups
  • x 1 Tinned fruit (ring-pull can)
  • x 1 Bottle of water
  • x 1 Can of soft drink
  • x 1 Packet of chips
  • x 1 Hygiene pack (including soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste)
  • x 1 Christmas bauble
  • Handful of wrapped lollies

Hampers can be delivered to Soul Café, corner of Watt and Hunter streets, Monday to Thursday between 8am and 2pm

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