While most people don’t think about Christmas until the start of December, here at Colony 47 the buzz begins much earlier.
This year it began around March as we knew it was time to make changes to allow us to go bigger…
The first Colony 47 Community Christmas Lunch was planned, funded, cooked and hosted by long-time volunteer Adge Ashcroft, 40 years ago in 1982. Adge spent evenings running the “Night Time Drop In” at 47 Davey Street. Many of the participants there had expressed feelings of anxiety and dismay at the prospect of being either alone for Christmas or obliged to attend a stressful family gathering.
Just under 20 people attended that day. The following year we figured he’d need some help. Off duty staff, his fiancée and participants all pitched in to supply a proper tinseled, sit-down, cracker snapping, family style Christmas Lunch.
Since then, the event has grown into the massive undertaking that it is today thanks to all the passionate volunteers, generous businesses and individuals within the Tasmanian community who donate their time, resources and funds.
While the Hellenic Hall has served us very well up until now, we’ve found more people looking to us in recent years than ever before. So, we set out to find a larger place to help us reach more people on a day that can be stressful, hard and lonely for some.
We were fortunate enough to be approached by In The Hanging Garden with an offer to host in their space free of charge. The venue is a popular Hobart location that boasts beautiful gardens in a light and airy space that would allow us to host more people. We knew right away; it was the perfect place.
We then started putting the call out for caterers that could help knowing there wasn’t a commercial kitchen in the space, and that we wanted to try to make things easier for everyone this year. Flint Kitchen answered that call and came in to help plan the most delicious lunch.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, there was a flurry of activity:
- We handed out boxes to businesses that generously took part in our gift drive – a place for those in the community to drop off gifts for children aged under 12.
- We posted our first Facebook and website fundraising campaigns dedicated solely to Christmas.
- We reached out to businesses and suppliers for food, items, decorations and cooking spaces.
- We opened volunteering and attending registrations online and were so overwhelmed with the volunteering responses, we closed it off in record time.
- We dropped off fliers so we could get the word out to everyone that they were welcome to join us.
- We regularly met with our main partners to finalise all the finer details.
- We hosted a corporate wrapping day where over 40 individuals across 4 Hobart businesses came to put a ribbon on the final items.
- We collected many donated goods that would help us put food on the table, give out lucky door prizes and help everyone go home with items to put in their kitchens or bathrooms for the days following Christmas.
- We posted updates and had some Elf on the Shelf fun when December finally kicked off.
There is so much that goes into the day, it’s hard to believe it ends up running so smoothly but it always does – thanks to the help of hundreds in our village.
This year we had over 80 volunteers helping us on the day. We had 35 businesses help us with food, items, donations and time. We had oysters and cheese tables, turkey, ham, juice, beef, pavlovas and pudding. A beautiful mix of traditional and Tasmanian. The meal was sensational, the venue buzzing and the Christmas spirit on point.
”Seeing the amazing smiles on the faces, the incredible volunteers, the donations and it’s just really turned out to be a fantastic day”– Erin, volunteer.
Each child left with gifts from Santa’s Hobart Helper and each teenager and adult left with gift cards giving them the gift of choice. We had plenty of donated items such as sauces, non-perishables, bread and toiletries for people to take home for later.
Our wish is that everyone attending knows that we do this for them and that they all deserve this magical day. Their words and faces upon leaving gave out the best vibes. It genuinely makes our year!
And let’s not forget, we also have THE BEST day!