Making Christmas merrier for 600 veterans and their families

Belinda Crossman 16 December 2022

Hundreds of deserving veterans received a special Christmas surprise thanks to RSL Queensland's 2022 hamper drive.

’Twas the month before Christmas … and all hands were on deck, packing and sending festive cheer to veterans who needed and deserved it most. 

An army of RSL Queensland staff and volunteers rallied together for the 2022 Christmas hamper drive, which saw more than 600 hampers hand-packed and delivered to veterans either doing it tough or doing outstanding work in their community. 

RSL Queensland Christmas hampers packing group photo

The RSL Queensland team was happy to help spread Christmas cheer

 Districts and Sub Branches nominated hundreds of deserving recipients, which included veterans who’d recently lost partners or were experiencing social isolation, health issues, financial hardship, or homelessness. 

“We looked at who's done it tough this year, who could do with a little bit of cheering up, but also who's done outstanding service,” Moreton District Secretary Catherine Akers explains. 

Each hamper was tailored for its recipient's needs – filled with tasty treats, handmade gifts and other locally sourced Christmas goodies, plus a handwritten card and a $100 supermarket voucher to put towards a special Christmas meal. 

“It just makes that time of the year – which can be a bit troubling if you're not doing well – something special,” Catherine says. 

Spreading the joy further 

RSL Queensland Christmas hampers group photo

The Christmas hamper drive was a team effort

The hamper idea first sparked in 2020 with hopes to brighten what had been a very difficult year for many. 

“As we came out of COVID, we recognised that a lot of people were suffering from social isolation,” RSL Queensland CEO Rob Skoda says. 

“So, we banded together at the end of that year and delivered 250 hampers to veterans and their families across Queensland.” 

That effort was increased to more than 500 hampers in 2021 and more than 600 hampers in 2022, when the giftee list expanded to include veterans in Tasmania and the Northern Territory. 

Christmas Hamper packing by RSL Queensland staff and volunteers

“It's something that we've seen is so beneficial for the emotional wellbeing of people that we just want to see it continue happening,” Rob says. 

It’s not just the recipients who’ve benefited, either. Many hamper supplies were sourced from veteran-owned businesses – including A Touch of Sage candles, Australian Warfighters Coffee, Beef Chief jerky, Made by Matt woodware, and Tegere outdoor gear – and Rob hopes to involve more in both supply and distribution.  

“I'd love to see us connect a large portion of the veteran community who can work with us to contribute to and deliver these hampers, but also grow that reach across Queensland to make sure veterans and their families, wherever they are, may appreciate this goodwill gesture.” 

Much more than a gift

RSL Queensland Christmas hampers Rob Skoda Stephen Day

RSL Queensland CEO Rob Skoda and State President Major General Stephen Day DSC AM pitched in with packing the hampers 

Compiling, packing, and distributing 600-plus hampers across three states was quite the logistical feat – one that started in March and involved more than 140 volunteers including a 30-strong planning committee, Board members, and staff from across RSL Queensland. 

But as Catherine explains, the effort was more than worth it. 

“I'm very fortunate that I get to see when the hampers are received. It's a magical moment. To see their reactions – they're very, very humbling,” Catherine says. 

“A lot of them, their first reaction is, ‘Oh, my gosh, why am I getting this? Why am I being picked? Joe could have had that’. They're very touched.” 

Each hamper is “much more than just a gift”, according to Rob.  

Christmas hamper items 2022

“It's a recognition that the recipient is part of a bigger community,” he says. 

“There's a lot of people that are living with social isolation or may have been suffering throughout the year. Receiving a hamper from RSL Queensland tells them there's people out there thinking about them, and that we're here for them. 

“When we join the military, we join a community of like-minded people coming together to do something positive. It's important that that community can come together and look after our mates, which is something that's ingrained in the military psyche. It's something that's ingrained in RSL Queensland.”  


Christmas Hamper packing 2022

A Touch of Sage  
Australian Warfighters Coffee 
Bee Kind 
Beef Chief  
Bundaberg Ginger Beer 
Bunny Chow Down 
DC Laser Services 
Hurley Burley Toys 
Kuranda Cookies 
Made by Matt 
Mr Fothergill's 
Nerada Tea 
Noosa Chocolate Factory               
Pudding People  
Real Christmas Trees 
Sock it Up 
St John Ambulance 

Want to get involved?

 RSL Queensland Christmas hampers

Are you a supplier or distributor who’d like to contribute to next year's hamper drive? Email to express your interest. Thanks!  


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