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Parish ministry Aspleycare brings joy to Brisbane’s poorest


Season for giving: Clive Smith, Sheryl James and Tom Borger (centre) were joined by staff from Centacare, Ray White Aspley and Bunnings Warehouse to pack 112 hampers that will be given to disadvantaged families in Brisbane. Photo: Emilie Ng

HUNGRY little mouths in Brisbane will be feasting for weeks after Christmas, thanks to a delivery of 110 hampers from parish ministry Aspleycare.

Laundry baskets filled with delicious festive and staple foods were delivered to Brisbane families assisted by Aspleycare, a ministry of Our Lady and St Dympna’s Parish in Aspley on the city’s northside. More than 100 disadvantaged families with children, or just over six per cent of the total number of clients the ministry supports in its emergency relief office, received a hamper this year.

Aspleycare volunteer Margaret Campbell said the ministry started taking requests for hampers from November 1 and it was inundated.

“One of those (families) has 12 children – a single mother, and she’s got three sets of twins,” Mrs Campbell said. “Twelve children and no man at home.”

It is the largest amount of hampers the parish-based organisation has delivered since starting the initiative 10 years ago.

Volunteer Sheryl James said some of the people who were contacted about receiving a hamper broke down in tears.

“There was a lady with a family, and she said ‘No, I’ve just been able to get a roof over my head so give it to someone else who needs it more’,” Mrs James said. “And I said, ‘No way; we’ve got your name on it here; if you don’t come and get it we deliver it to you’ – and she cried. It was beautiful.”

Volunteer Clive Smith said Aspleycare would have offered hampers to all 1600 of its clients but resources were limited.

“We’re looking after 1600 families or individuals each year (but) we can’t give 1600 hampers but we do give it to the most disadvantaged and needy, especially ones with kids,” Mr Smith said.

Aspleycare operates in a government-funded emergency-relief building offering support to families in crisis. This includes food vouchers, assistance with some bills, medical prescriptions and referrals to other agencies.

The ministry also supports women in crisis pregnancies, refugees, drug and alcohol addicts, and people suffering in domestic violence.

Run solely by volunteers, Aspleycare serves families living in 25 suburbs on Brisbane’s north, as far as Brighton and back down to Stafford.

The services are funded both by the government, whose assistance totals about $45,000 each year, and fundraisers or donations from local groups including the Kedron Wavell RSL, the Rotary Club of Aspley and the local Catholic school.

President Tom Borger said the ministry needed to fundraise enough money to match the government grants to keep it going, and was grateful to local organisations who pitched in generously.

“Rotary Club of Aspley gave a significant donation for the food (in the hampers),” Mr Borger said. “We went back to tell them what we did with the money over a number of years and they presented us with another cheque to put with the cheque they had given us before.”

Mr Borger said since 2014 Aspleycare had been “overwhelmed” by visits from disadvantaged families.

This year alone the ministry recorded 1600 families and individuals as clients, and many of them returned several times a year.

“This year I don’t know how many we’re going to have,” Mr Borger said.

“We’re overwhelmed by this need.”

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