It takes a village: Canteen in the community

Submitted by Dan_Canteen on 01 Oct 2021
01 Oct 2021

By John Friedsam, General Manager, Fundraising

In the eight and a half years I’ve worked at Canteen, I’ve been continuously amazed at the incredible generosity our community shows us each and every day.

It is that generosity that enables us to deliver our mission, which is to be in a young person’s corner with whatever support they need when cancer crashes into their life.

Around 90 percent of Canteen’s income comes from individual supporters donating everything from a gold coin to hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars as well as raising funds in many other wonderful ways.

As you probably know, National Bandanna Day is coming up at the end of October and it’s one of my favourite times of the year. Young people tell us how supported they feel when they see thousands of people in all corners of this vast country wearing a bandanna. I agree – it’s an incredible display of community support that always puts a huge smile on my face.

Our bandannas are one of the things we’re most well-known for and since COVID-19 hit our shores, we’ve also used our most popular designs as face masks and they have been selling like hotcakes through our online store!

But buying (or selling) bandannas isn’t the only way for the community to get involved – we also have a new campaign to cut, colour or cover your hair. My daughter challenged me to ‘colour it’ so I’ll be dying my greying hair bright blue. It’s definitely not my usual look so I’d really appreciate if you could sponsor me and make it worthwhile!

It’s not the first time I’ve done something a bit weird to raise money for Canteen. Last year I danced a ‘Midday Macarena’ every day for the 150 work days Sydney was in lockdown and raised over $5,000.

And I’m not the only one. The community really gets behind us doing fun and quirky things to raise funds like jumping out of planes, quitting coffee for a month and we even have this one story of a cricket club that fined a member for every day he was delaying getting married and then donated the fines to us.

I can’t talk about community fundraising without talking about Life Cycle. The heart and soul of this event is a community champion called Jenny Aramini who's an absolute legend. She donates a huge amount of her time and organises a team of other volunteers to run this incredible cycling challenge in Western Australia which has been going since 1998 and has raised more than $2M for Canteen.

There are many others who, like Jenny, generously donate their time to Canteen, which is seeing our volunteer workforce continue to grow and help on programs for young people like a recent camel trek in the Pilbara and sailing adventures on Sydney Harbour.

Events like this and everything we do at Canteen wouldn't be possible without the community’s support and I can’t thank you enough for that.