Global Communities and society

Five examples of how councils around the world are helping their communities over Christmas


Three elderly individuals wearing Christmas hats and drinking warm drinks in a cafe together. Unsplash+ In collaboration with Getty Images

1. Spreading joy: Council of Waukesha County, USA

The Christmas Clearing project run by the Council of Waukesha County, has been aiding families in need since 1949. Coordinating giving during the festive season, the council matches families with benefactors, ensuring that over 1,900 families and nearly 4,300 children in Waukesha County receive support annually. The organisation offers various ways to contribute, including donations, family sponsorship, and volunteering. Through its clearinghouse, it connects those in need with community groups, businesses, and individuals. The council’s mission is to emphasise the spread of joy during Christmas. The council’s commitment to aiding those most in need has made a significant impact over the decades, and no doubt this year will be just the same.

2. Bringing everyone together: Hutt City Council, New Zealand

This year, Hutt City Council launched the Christmas Event Support Fund to support communities in building important connections through festive celebrations. The fund offered grants of up to $3,500 for events that promote community connection and celebration. The ambition was to create a vibrant mix of community and cultural events over the festive season that are supportive of local businesses, accessible, environmentally friendly and create positive outcomes for the community. In total, the funding has supported 12 successful events this year, which include a Christmas parade, community festivals, Christmas carol events, grottos and even a festive fitness event.

Santa in a sleigh outside.
Santa in a sleigh outside. Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

3. The spirit of the season: Cairns, Australia

The Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal is a significant annual event in Cairns, featuring various festive activities and fundraising efforts to support disadvantaged individuals and families during the holiday season. The event includes markets, Christmas and New Year’s events, and a variety of festive celebrations. It aims to spread joy and unite the community while raising funds to help those in need. The appeal also encompasses initiatives such as volunteering opportunities, clean-up events, and sustainable activities, emphasising community engagement and environmental responsibility. Overall, it serves as a heartwarming and impactful local tradition that embodies the spirit of giving during the holiday season.

Volunteers holding a sign saying 'clean up' and smiling as they collect rubbish.
Volunteers holding a sign saying ‘clean up’ and smiling as they collect rubbish. Unsplash+ In collaboration with Getty Images

4. The gift of giving: Leeds, England

Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural campaign, which resulted in 6,500 items of winter clothing donated and distributed to families for free. Zero Waste Leeds – a project led by Social Business Brokers in collaboration with the City Council – is back again with another appeal for winter coats. Not only does the campaign showcase the vast public generosity across the city, but it also cuts back on waste and gives clothes a second lease on life. Businesses, community groups and individuals are all encouraged to take part, and there are loads of drop-off/pick-up points around the city to make the process as easy as possible.

5. Santa Claus is coming to town: Ottawa, Canada

This year marks Ottawa City Council’s 21st Mayor’s Annual Christmas Celebration at the city hall to support the local Ottawa Food Bank and drive donations. As is tradition now, the Mayor, Mark Sutcliffe, will be in the hosting hot seat. The celebrations include a Santa’s grotto with a chance to meet Santa and Mrs Claus, a campfire to sit around roasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolates, plus horse-drawn wagon rides, ice skating and live entertainment! All proceeds go directly to the Ottawa Food Bank, including direct donations through admission fees.


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