RSLWA’s Christmas Hampers for Heroes program buoys 350 Veteran families at end of tough 2020


THERE’s no denying 2020 has been a relentless slog, with everyday Australians hit hard by the financial and health challenges thrown at us by the covid-19 pandemic.

Sections of our Veteran community have been doing it particularly tough. So it’s come as some relief for 350 Veterans in need to receive a timely gift in time for Christmas – one of RSLWA’s Christmas Hampers for Heroes.

The hampers are packed full of pantry essentials to make sure none of these Veterans or their families go hungry on Christmas day. And this year, it’s thanks to a generous $15,000 donation made by the Scottish Masonic Charitable Foundation of WA to our program, which is in its second year.

READ MORE: One generous donor funds RSLWA’s entire 2020 Hampers for Heroes program

Of the 350 Foodbank hampers bought with the funds, 300 were distributed to Sub-Branches that expressed a need within their communities for a helping hand – with the remainder handed out by RSLWA’s welfare team of Rosalind Howat and Nikki Sligo.

Ian (Ibby) Brook, President of Rockingham RSL Sub-Branch, said the hampers were of particularly great benefit to elderly and frail Veterans, because their delivery meant they could stay in isolation, with many still very nervous about venturing out.

“This program has been a great help to them,” he said. “It’s meant they can keep safe in their own homes. Our Veterans have been over the moon with getting them and want it known how appreciated they are.

“The majority of recipients from our Sub-Branch have been elderly but we have a few who aren’t, like the couple who have PTSD.”

RAN Veteran Steve Walker said that receiving a food hamper had meant a great deal to both he and his wife, who were both currently struggling with health issues.

Steve’s service injuries and recent incapacity after surgery had left him unable to work. His wife was currently enduring complications following surgery that had left her in constant pain and at risk of losing a limb.

“We’ve been struggling a lot since and are more than grateful. It means a great deal to me,” said Steve.

“Just to get a little bit of help, because my wife is also in poor health, means so much this Christmas.

“Thanks to RSLWA there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Kalamunda Sub-Branch President Geof Irvin said the hampers were “a great little gift for Christmas” for those requiring a little extra care at this time of year.

RSLWA State President Peter Aspinall AM, who was presented with the donation cheque that covered the full cost of this year’s program, was effusive in his praise for the Scottish Masonic Charitable Foundation of WA.

“RSLWA is incredibly grateful to you and your organisation,” he told SMCFWA chairman George Rogers. “This wonderfully generous $15,000 donation will make a big difference in the lives of many Veterans.”

Merry Christmas everybody!


RAN Veteran Steve Walker receives a Christmas hamper and a hug from welfare team members Rosalind Howat and Nikki Sligo.


Andrew Bruce, Robert Keenan and SMCFWA Chairman George Rogers present RSLWA State President Peter Aspinall AM with the cheque for $15,000.