Christmas. The time of the year where lights go up on houses around Australia, trees are decorated and the scent of summer is in the air.
It’s also the time of year to remember how good it feels to give back to friends and loved ones and people in your community who are doing it tough and may need a little extra cheer.
It is that feeling and sense of festive spirit that the Coca‑Cola Christmas Truck Tour set out to take on the road to some regional communities around the country.
“This campaign is anchored in the idea that it feels good to give at Christmas time. It feels even better when you do something for your family, friends or for someone that you may not have even met, than it does just to simply receive a present,” said Adam Bell, spokesman for Coca‑Cola South Pacific.
“We wanted people to come along and enjoy the experience and help us spread a little Christmas cheer as we join The Salvos to give back to communities around the country.”
Travelling to Tamworth, Townsville and Mount Isa, the aim of the Coca‑ColaChristmas Truck Tour is to bring people and communities together with the help of the Salvation Army.
“The Salvation Army has a remarkable national network of community services. The work they do all year round and in particular at Christmas for the people who are less fortunate than ourselves is really quite extraordinary,” said Adam.
The Salvation Army worked closely with the team at Coca‑Cola to identify towns in regional and rural Australia where the truck tour could visit in its first year.
“We wanted to see what the opportunities were and to make sure it wasn’t just the ‘event of the moment’ but that there was a lasting impact from our visit,” said Leigh Cleave, Salvation Army communications and fundraising director.
In Tamworth, the tour made its first stop at the Golden Guitar where locals enjoyed the festive atmosphere, the Christmas Carols playing from the truck’s speakers with many taking the opportunity to capture selfies.
The following night the Coke Truck Tour made a very special stop at the Salvation Army community hall where ARIA Award and former X Factor winner Samantha Jade performed alongside local talent Scott Munday.
They performed on the newly revamped stage, lighting, sound and production facilities including a new mural and musical instruments that Coca‑Coladonated to the Salvos for the local community to use in years to come.
“It was a very special night but what is really important was the fact that, not just The Salvation Army but everyone in the community will be able to use these newly revamped facilities at our community hall. So in essence the tour has left a bit of a lasting footprint of the time it came to down at Christmas,” said Leigh Cleave of The Salvation Army.
The following week in Townsville, the Coke Christmas Truck Tour treated the local Salvation Army team and the families they had invited to a delicious Christmas feast on Walter Nesbitt beach just outside of town.
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The next day, the truck continued its journey of giving back when it stopped by two of The Salvation Army drop-in services in Townsville to install some brand-new fridges, BBQs, picnic tables and of course Christmas decorations to sprinkle a little extra festive cheer.
Finally the truck visited regional Australia at Mount Isa before it made the long journey back to Sydney, the two last stops ahead of the tour culminating at The Carols in the Domain on Sunday, December 17.
In Mount Isa, the truck had a very special gift of an ‘Outback Cinema’ for residents of the remote mining town – a reusable ‘pop-up’ facility the town’s residents will be able to enjoy for years to come.
“We know that something like this Outback cinema doesn’t change whole lives but we work with people for the long haul. That is why for people to get a gift with no conditions to simply be there and enjoy it really makes all the difference,” Leigh said.
“This is something that will be imprinted on their hearts for a long time.”
To donate to The Salvation Army and help give hope where it’s needed most, visit salvos.org.au or call 13 72 58 (13 SALVOS).