What could your community do with $10,000?

The inaugural St George Community Awards will give Queenslanders who are working to improve their local communities their due.

Six winners will each receive a $2000 St George bank account, with the overall Community Group of the Year organisation receiving a $10,000 grant for their efforts.

If you know an individual or group that you believe should be acknowledged and rewarded, now’s the time to act — head to stgeorgecommunityawards.com.au and nominate them!

We’ll be profiling one nominee every week until the winners are announced — this week, the spotlight falls on the Brisbane Basket Brigade!

What are the aims and goals of the Brisbane Basket Brigade?

Brisbane Basket Brigade is a not-for-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers that works to deliver food, clothing and gifts to underprivileged and disadvantaged people within our community at Christmas time. We raise funds and procure goods throughout the year so that we can assemble gift baskets which are delivered anonymously to deserving households within the Brisbane area.

We work closely with grass-roots community organizations to target those who rarely seek out charity, and are at risk of falling through the gap. These are people who are living in financial distress or are otherwise disadvantaged — families with young children, the elderly and the homeless — and who otherwise might not be able to celebrate Christmas.

How is this initiative funded?

Brisbane Basket Brigade is run entirely by volunteers and does not receive any ongoing funding. All fund-raising and donation appeals are conducted on an annual basis by a small committee of hard-working and like-minded individuals who give their time freely. Money is raised through activities such as sausage sizzles, raffles and local activities. Funding has been received on a year-by-year basis from charitable trusts and funds, such as the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust.

We have also received donations of food, gifts and clothing from individuals and organisations, again on a year-by-year basis and upon request. We have sought and received sponsorship from generous organisations and groups who have donated services and goods in kind to assist our efforts. Marist College Ashgrove has donated the use of their hall for use on Packing Day, when the gift baskets are assembled and distributed. National Storage has provided free temporary storage space to house donated items. Visy has donated packaging and Foodworks Oxley has provided discounted food and personal items.

How has the Brisbane Basket Brigade been involved in the Queensland community over the last 12 months?

Whilst the main activity of the Brisbane Basket Brigade takes place at Christmas time, the BBB committee works hard throughout the year to raise funds, secure donations and sponsorship, and to raise the profile of the organisation and promote our achievements to ensure that each year’s activities build on the previous years.

Over the last 12 months, BBB has established and maintained a Facebook page; established and maintained links with grassroots community organisations who nominate worthy recipients; lobbied businesses and organisations to seek donations; applied for funding from charitable trusts and funds, and engaged in fundraising activities within the local area.

What have been the major achievements of the Brisbane Basket Brigade in the last 12 months?

In 2013, a committee of only seven people raised enough funds and procured enough donations to create 500 gift baskets for approximately 350 households, benefiting 800 individuals. This small group also organised and managed a temporary workforce of 200 volunteers who came together on Packing Day, December 15 2013, to assemble and deliver the baskets. Our goal in 2014 is to assemble 1,000 gift baskets to be delivered to 700 households, benefiting 1,500 individuals.

How have these achievements helped the community?

Our efforts directly benefit disadvantaged and underprivileged people within our community, who otherwise might not be able to celebrate at Christmas time. The baskets are given anonymously, and the only note given to the recipients simply asks them to take care of themselves and if one day they find themselves in a position to help another, then they are encouraged to do so — the “pay it forward” concept. This fosters hope and a sense of community connection in those who might otherwise fall through the gap.

We have also found that the volunteers who participate in the Packing Day come away with a great sense of fulfillment, satisfaction and community connectedness, and a real sense of being able to directly help others who are less fortunate than themselves.

What would a $10,000 grant mean to the Brisbane Basket Brigade?

A grant of $10,000 would enable us to assemble and deliver approximately 330 baskets to worthy recipients at Christmas time. This would be a significant boost towards our total fundraising goal. Because our organisation is run entirely by volunteers, all of the funds we raised goes directly to our recipients in the local community. The more funds we receive, the more baskets we can assemble and deliver and the more people benefit.

For more information about the Brisbane Basket Brigade, visit brisbanebasketbrigade.com. To nominate a local group for a $10,000 grant, visit stgeorgecommunityawards.com.au today! Don’t delay — nominations close on Sunday 21 September.

What could your community do with $10,000?