"Hundreds For Thousands": Helping local families in need find a little joy this Christmas | HerCanberra

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“Hundreds For Thousands”: Helping local families in need find a little joy this Christmas

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A drama class and a basket of toys might sound like an inauspicious start, but together they formed the catalyst for what might be Canberra’s most heart-warming story this Christmas.

Gungahlin resident Natalie Tanchevski never thought she’d be giving 160 Canberra families a brighter Christmas. But that’s exactly what she did last December, raising $16,000 in three weeks to be turned into $100 grocery gift cards for families in need.

This Christmas, she’s aiming even higher—and widening the scope of donations—aiming for $100,000 to help the Salvos assist 1000 families across Canberra, Queanbeyan, Yass, Cooma and Goulburn in a heart-warming new campaign—Hundreds For Thousands.

Natalie’s support of the Salvos Gungahlin started small, but quickly snowballed when she learned of the great work they were doing in the community.

In late 2019, Natalie’s daughter was taking a drama class within the Salvos Gungahlin centre and saw a basket of toys placed in front of their reception desk. Realising they were donations, Natalie began to collect and donate the toys her children had grown out of, but quickly realised she wanted to do more.

Having gotten chatting with Captain Dominic Wallis, Corps Officer at Gungahlin Salvation Army, Natalie found out that the Salvos creates Christmas hampers for families in need each Christmas, made up of donated food and toys. But what if, thought Natalie, we could also give these families a grocery gift card to help make sure they had their favourites foods over Christmas?

“I was just sitting there at the Salvos Centre, waiting for my daughter to finish her drama class and the idea just came to me. I thought—that’s what I can do, I can raise money to purchase $100 grocery vouchers for 100 families,” says Natalie. She then set about creating the fundraiser—’$100 for 100 Families’—and reached out to her personal networks, encouraging donations big and small.

“I did stop and think—oh gosh Nat, what have you got yourself into, that’s $10,000, how on earth are you going to raise that amount of money in such a short amount of time!” she laughs, but Natalie needn’t have been worried. Having started just three weeks out from Christmas, Natalie surpassed her goal, raising $16,000 in total for Salvos Gungahlin.

Now, it’s $100,000 of grocery cards that Natalie is aiming for in 2020, after a year that’s made those in need even more vulnerable. With the aim of helping families not only across Canberra but also in our nearby towns of Queanbeyan, Yass, Cooma and Goulburn.

The process is simple: the public donate online to their local Salvos branch and these donations are turned into grocery gift cards for families registered with these centres. This keeps the donations in your local area—as Natalie puts it, you could be helping out the family next door.

All you need to do is head to www.hundredsforthousands.salvationarmy.org.au.

As for where you can donate to, there are 10 Salvo centres involved—Gungahlin, Belconnen, Canberra City, Fyshwick, Woden, Tuggeranong, Queanbeyan, Yass, Cooma and Goulburn.

This expansion of fundraising efforts is welcome news for Dominic, who is thrilled to be working with Natalie again for Hundreds For Thousands.

“It means we’re able to do more in the community and give more to households,” says Dominic, adding that due to Natalie’s fundraising efforts in 2019, Salvos Gungahlin was able to almost double the value of what they were able to give to families.

“Particularly after the year we’ve had, it means we can share the Christmas spirit and lift the burden on some people so they can just have a special, joyous event.”

“We all need to experience joy—whether that’s someone by themselves, a couple or a family. This means they can have a Christmas and not worry about putting something on the table and something under the tree.”

As for how Christmas will further stretch people after an already overloaded year, Dominic says he has concerns.

“I think by July we all just wanted to put the Christmas tree up and call it a year,” he laughs. “But I think we also need to be very cautious that we don’t be too hard on ourselves and expect what we would expect [at Christmas] in a normal year. We’re all tired—it’s been exhausting.”

Having worked with Salvos for over 20 years, Dominic says the rise of social media has created even more pressure for families to live-out a picture-perfect Christmas, which simply isn’t a reality for many—especially not in 2020.

“Social media can make things difficult and put a lot of pressure on families to have a great-looking Christmas when it’s just not possible.”

However, with the support of Hundreds For Thousands and the Salvos myriad support services, Dominic says people can still have a joyous Christmas, and start to get back on track.

“It gives them the right resources to launch into a new season of life,” says Dominic. “It’s a support network—a backup—to help them on their journey.”


  1. Visit hundredsforthousands.salvationarmy.org.au
  2. Select which Salvos branch you would like to donate to
  3. Help one or more families and donate!
  4. Share the campaign to your channels and encourage others to support their local Salvos centre
  5. Like the page on Facebook and share with your channels


  • The Salvation Army Christmas appeal: org.au/wishes
  • Keep an eye out for the Kmart wishing tree at your local Kmart
  • You can donate books, clothing, linen and toys to a variety of Salvos across Canberra. Click here for more information.

Photography: Hayley Carberry Photography

HerCanberra is a proud supporter of Hundreds For Thousands 

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