The best gifts often have a story behind them. This coming week at Addi Road we will be putting together 1000 ‘Hampers of Hope’ for the holiday season. The hampers will carry basics like rice and oil, but also special treats and extra from chocolates to moisturizer and sun block and the odd small gift. Addi Road will then make use of our relationships with the charity and community organisations and groups we’ve been working with throughout the year to make sure these hampers get to the people who will appreciate them the most.

From this Monday 14 December to Friday 18 December, a host of volunteers are also heading on down to Marrickville to join us inside our Gumbramorra Hall. They will make sure our ‘Hampers of Hope’ are packed and presented in the Christmas and holiday spirit they are intended.

A former Global Marketing Manager for Johnson and Johnson, Michelle Flemming is one of most important people behind this operation, working with Addi Road on the logistics and making sure everything is in its right place – from the volunteers to the items we are including and just how we will put everything together, solving a few time-and-motion problems along the way for us!

Michelle begs off having her photo taken, then relents with her daughter Trieste. They stand surrounded in a storage hut full to the brim with boxes and goods that we plan to include in the hampers. She and her daughter have spent most of the day before sorting palette loads of boxes into ordered groups so that come this Monday they can be easily transported across to Gumbramorra Hall in the most effective and speedy way possible.


Michelle Fleming and her daughter Trieste take stock for Addi Road’s Hampers of Hope 2020.


The original idea for Hampers of Hope was born over a lunch conversation between Michelle, good friends Lara Foster and Gill Larkins (CFO of ASX). Lara and her husband Craig Foster had been doing something similar for years,  so when Lara, Michelle and Gill talked they realised they could step it up a notch. “With the help of our immediate friends and family, Craig and I would get excited if we could make between 50 – 100 hampers,” Lara Foster says. “This year however, we wanted to go big, 1000 hampers big! With the help of Addi Road, as well as corporate sponsors, local businesses and the community, we knew we could make someone’s life a little more hopeful this festive season. Michelle and I mentioned the idea to Craig and Rosanna [Barbero, CEO of Addison Road Community Organisation} and voila, we were on our way!”

Lara Foster notes the family connections that underline everything. “I met Michelle through school. Her daughter Trieste and our daughter Charlie go to school together. Although our girls aren’t in the same friendship group, there was something about Michelle, the connection was instant! We share many of the same values … she’s warm, very generous, compassionate and she’s super keen to get more involved in helping our community. Although I didn’t know her in her professional work life, I believe that she was quite the gun! I know she has an MBA from Columbia University.”

Remembering that first lunch conversation, Michelle says, “We just realised the power of all of us to create something good in partnership with Addi Road, a partnership Craig had already set up with Rosanna that we could build on.”

Michelle Flemming’s husband John Doumani, who is the CEO of Zip Industries and formerly Arnotts, chipped in with his corporate contacts, securing generous product donations from Unilever, Arnotts and Darrell Lea. Craig put calls out to his 100,000 strong social media following and more goods kept flooding in from Heinemann Tax and Duty Free who donating over 100 pallets of product, Sun Rice Foods, Jack Hanna, Red Rooster, Crescent Wealth, Little Care Packs, Share The Dignity Australia, Clovelly Community Bank, Zoi Organic, Hurstone Park RSL Club and countless individuals who donated directly through Addison Road Community Organisation.

“There wasn’t a lot of time,” Michelle says, “so we really had to pull the troops together. Everyone just got on and made it happen, whether that was raising money, putting a call out for products or finding volunteers. I’ve just helped with the background logistics, things like packaging requirements, reaching out for more volunteers, the logistic side of things …”

Once Michelle starts to list her duties it does not seem as modest a task as she suggests. She and Trieste finish the box sorting and Michelle heads back over to the hall with a check list to make sure everything is in its right place, including a new ‘wet weather plan’ to cope with predicted heavy rains. 

There’s a lot to consider. “And this is our inaugural year. We’re cutting our teeth. We’re learning. But we have hope too, an ambition to make it an annual event and also something that grows each year.”

For Michelle the best thing about this first Hampers ofHope is the extras. “It’s about a special occasion, a special time of year,” she says. “We were aware of the health  content and essentials, but we wanted it to be a treat for people, especially families. The hope that it builds. Small things that just make people feel good. It’s about people feeling special. ”


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You can donate to Addi Road’s food security and food rescue program here: