In any normal year, employees at Western Health would come together at the end of the year to celebrate with an annual Christmas lunch.
But this year has not been like any other. COVID-19 restrictions has meant that the traditional Christmas lunch – held at each of Western Health's five campuses – cannot be held this year.
In an overwhelmingly popular vote, employees across Western Health opted to forgo a lunch voucher or packaged lunch as an alternative, instead choosing to donate their Christmas lunch to Foodbank Victoria in a selfless act of generosity.
"The community have been so generous to us throughout the year," says Leesa Cooke, Workforce Coordinator at Western Health. "We've received tremendous support in the form of donated meals, skincare products, snacks and beverages from individuals and organisations wanting to support our frontline healthcare workers."
"Although it's been a challenging year for us, we've been fortunate to at least have a job. We know that there are so many who are struggling right now through loss of employment. It just felt right to give back to the community at this time," says Leesa.
Foodbank Victoria Chief Executive Dave McNamara said Western Health's contributions would enable Foodbank Victoria to provide up to 50,000 meals this Christmas.
"Everyone is very excited about the lifting of restrictions, but for Foodbank the real work is just beginning as Victorian families grapple with the economic fall out of this terrible time. It's amazing that the frontline workers at Western Health are still leading the way with this incredible donation, sacrificing themselves and putting others first. 50,000 meals will make a happy Christmas for many families."
In addition to donating Christmas lunch, Western Health has also forwarded on several boxes of surplus donated skincare products, which will also be distributed to those in need this Christmas.
"We approached some local skin care manufacturers to assist with items for our frontline staff, to help ease the irritation of wearing tight PPE masks all day" said Leesa, "They responded so generously, and we were able to create a special care pack of goodies for each staff member, which has really helped. It's good to be able to share the love with this too."