Local candlemaker shines bright for veterans this Christmas

24 November 2023
  • Veteran stories
  • Media release

Candlemaker and veteran Hannah Martin shares why she’s teamed up with RSL Queensland’s Christmas Hamper project.

Amid the pandemic in 2020, RSL Queensland staff came up with the idea to pack Christmas hampers for deserving veterans across Queensland. The hampers, filled with gifts, food and goodies to ensure veterans and their families have an extra special festive season, are now a tradition for RSL Queensland.

Since the initiative’s inception, veteran-owned small business Elke Candles – named after Hannah’s beloved golden-brown labradoodle – has supplied handmade candles for each hamper. The candles, with notes of gingerbread, Christmas pine and beachside Christmas, have become an iconic part of the hampers.

ELKE Candles Hannah Martin

Hannah and her labradoodle Elke

With Elke by her side, this year she will pour 500 candles to light up the homes of veterans across the state. 

“As a veteran myself, it means everything to be able to give back and support deserving veterans in the community,” Hannah says.

“The chance to be part of something bigger – to be a link in the chain that connects people with the love and light they need during the festive season – is an opportunity that really strikes a chord.

“Every veteran is on their own journey, one that is unique and full of ups and downs, and the holiday season is not always an easy time for those who may be experiencing hardship, loss or isolation.

“For me, the ability to share a little warmth and fill homes with a beautiful scent is a simple yet powerful way to bring smiles and spark joy.”

From receiving a gifted candle-making kit nine years ago to now operating a bustling small business, Hannah’s creative inclination and willingness to take a leap of faith has given rise to a future she never thought possible.

“Thinking back to when I started out, it’s hard to believe that all these years later I’d be pouring a batch of 500 candles for just one project alone,” Hannah says.

“It’s always daunting to jump into something new, and I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way, especially around the nuances of running a business, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. 

“For me, it was always about having a creative outlet where I could step away from the stresses of everyday life. Still to this day, I find the candle making process to be a cathartic experience.

“Particularly for veterans like myself, having an outlet to channel your energy is a fantastic way to foster good mental health and wellbeing, whether it be a creative project, exercise or a hobby – it’s a great way to stimulate your mind in different ways.”

“Now, day-in-day-out, helping people to create memories through scent is something I find a great deal of fulfillment in. It is my hope that this year’s batch of gingerbread scented candles will surround veterans and their families with a fragrant aroma to ignite the senses and unlock new memories.”

Elke Candles

Hannah has made 500 candles for RSL Queensland's Christmas Hamper project

RSL Queensland’s Christmas Hamper project will see hundreds of staff members and volunteers roll up their sleeves to pack and deliver the hampers directly into the hands of veterans residing in every corner of Queensland, as well as the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

As part of an ongoing mission to provide care, commemoration and camaraderie to the veteran community, this initiative is about telling people they matter, and that we’re here for them.

For more information, email hampers@rslqld.org. 



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