Handmade bags for the homeless

At the end of last year, with Christmas quickly approaching, we couldn’t help but think of the many community members who may be alone or have nowhere to go to enjoy a Christmas meal. While looking for local services that served meals during the holiday period we came across Mama Lana’s Community Foundation (MLCF) who serve Christmas lunch and dinner to homeless or disadvantaged community members in the Penrith area. They were after donations, so we decided to ask all our staff to donate anything they could and bring them along to our own staff Christmas Party. Once collected we were able to drop off a whole bunch of nonperishable goods, drinks and snacks to contribute to this Christmas feast for those less fortunate than ourselves.

This is when we first found out about MLCF. Little did we know, how much they really do for the homeless in our area; not just during holiday periods but every week of the year. MLCF is a not for profit, run by Roger and Lana Borg, created when they both realised the great need in our area to help feed the homeless and underprivileged. They serve hot meals, SIX nights a week to the homeless and/or disadvantaged. Not only do they supply food, but they supply toiletry packs, clothing, sleeping bags, swags and blankets! What an amazing foundation!!!

This year Mama Lana’s have opened their own little white house located at 56 Woodriff St in Penrith where they serve free hot meals, sandwiches, dessert, tea, coffee and hot Milo Mon – Saturday from 7:30pm.  The new place is also open on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s 10am till 4pm for breakfast, tea, coffee, hot showers, change of clothes and clothes washing facilities.

Last month Justine, NCNS Community Development Worker came across a post on the Mama Lana’s Facebook page asking for anyone who might be able to donate a sewing machine to make reusable/ washable bags that they could use to transport produce.

Our Make Time Women’s Group, who have previously sewn Chemo bags for cancer patients, jumped at the opportunity and were keen to start sewing handmade bags.

Amy from MLCF came over to our Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre just as we were ending our daily Brekky Club; a program that provides meals to children who may otherwise go without. Families also come along to our Brekky Club. It has become a place for community to come to, where they can feel safe and valued and we can really connect while sharing a meal.

On any given night in Australia 1 in 200 people are homeless; over 28,000 Australians in New South Wales are experiencing homelessness due to financial difficulties, accommodation issues, domestic violence and relationship issues, mental health issues and substance abuse issues so we feel that it is so important that organisations like MLCF and programs like our Brekky Club continue to be supported.

As a grassroots organisation it really warms our heart to see the ladies come together to contribute to a much-needed cause in their community. When Amy greeted the women’s group, the ladies were already in action with a production line of ladies ironing handles, cutting patterns, sewing all the pieces together as well as baking cupcakes in the kitchen to donate along with the reusable bags.

After letting the ladies know more about what MLCF does and why they do it, Amy collected 10 bags that they had already completed and took them to the MLCF meal service that night where each bag found a new home and those who received the bags admired the workmanship.

The handmade bags are also used to pack personal items for crisis hampers that are given to women who have fled their homes from domestic violence. They have also been used as library bags.

This month the women’s group also took a bus trip to Mama Lana’s new premises to bring donations of bags and baked goods. Tracey from MLCF gave an informative tour that was certainly an eye-opening experience.

If you are interested getting involved or donating to Mama Lana’s, you can check out their Donation Request list here, contact them directly on 0407 909 447 or check out the Mama Lana’s Community Foundation website.

If you would like to get involved in our Women’s Group, please contact Justine on 02 4729 0442 or justine@nepeancommunity.org.au

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