Grafton Salvation Army volunteer Merv Smidt loads the first box of donated goods from the 2019 Bushfire Christmas Appeal.
Grafton Salvation Army volunteer Merv Smidt loads the first box of donated goods from the 2019 Bushfire Christmas Appeal.

Gifts keep flooding in for Clarence Xmas Bushfire Appeal

GIFTS of all shapes, sizes and value keep flooding into the Salvation Army at Grafton and Maclean to be distributed to bushfire victims throughout the Clarence Valley as part of the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal.

When DEX general manager Kelly Price and I organised the appeal on November 20 with 2GF's Richie Williamson and GDSC's Nathan Whiteside, we decided on an official end date of Monday, December 16. This was to ensure the good people of the Salvation Army, who had agreed to add the appeal to their existing commitments, would have time to distribute the donations to where they were needed most.

 

L-R: Salvation Army officer Judy Salter, GDSC CEO Nathan Whiteside 2GF presenter Richie Williamson and Daily Examiner editor Bill North at the 2019 Bushfire Christmas Appeal
L-R: Salvation Army officer Judy Salter, GDSC CEO Nathan Whiteside 2GF presenter Richie Williamson and Daily Examiner editor Bill North at the 2019 Bushfire Christmas Appeal

 

 

But none of us predicted the scale this appeal would grow to. It's just about immeasurable, and gone far beyond the Clarence Valley.

"We received 84 boxes containing ladies packs from the Country Women's Association in Dubbo, all personalised, none the same," Grafton Salvation Army's Moneycare financial councillor Rob Leek said.

 

A heartfelt message on one of the 84 gift-wrapped ladies packs donated by Dubbo County Women's Association to the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal.
A heartfelt message on one of the 84 gift-wrapped ladies packs donated by Dubbo County Women's Association to the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal.

 

Mr Leek, who has been absolutely run off his feet helping to coordinate the distribution of goods, said he was amazed by the level of community spirit.

"I love it. You have no idea how much I appreciate this," he said.

Eight truckloads of gifts have already been delivered from Grafton, and the donations keep on coming.

"It will continue on after Christmas," Mr Leek said.

The Salvation Army in Grafton has been overwhelmed by the community support for the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal.
The Salvation Army in Grafton has been overwhelmed by the community support for the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal. Kylie Nohra

 

But he assured the donations are getting to where they are needed.

"Rural mental health nurses have started the ball rolling by stopping the pride of the farmers getting in the way.

"We don't ask questions. We know from their address they're affected by fires. There's no judgment."

If you have been impacted by bushfire please contact the Salvation Army at Grafton on 6643 1650 or Maclean on 6645 4456 to help ensure donations reach their intended targets.

 

Rob Leek and Judy Salter from the Salvation Army in Grafton have been busy distributing gifts donated to bushfire victims as part of the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal.
Rob Leek and Judy Salter from the Salvation Army in Grafton have been busy distributing gifts donated to bushfire victims as part of the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal.

 

To facilitate a smooth process, we initially requested for donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries and unwrapped gifts only - not cash. But such is the magnitude of this campaign, that it has been impossible to control.

Instead, we've encouraged people to donate money for the cause directly to the Salvation Army, or else substitute for vouchers at Farmer Lou's and other outlet stores.

Rotary Club of Grafton Midday raised $1655.75 from raffles at Carols By Candelight on November 30 and upon hearing about the appeal donated the money to the Salvation Army towards it.

 

Yesterday the Grafton Salvation Army istelf donated $1000 worth of grocery vouchers.

This week the GDSC Ladies Bowls and Travelling Bowlers each pitched in $1000 and Yamba Welding and Engineering an incredible $5000, which all went towards Bunnings gift cards.

YWE owner Bill Collingburn is a former deputy fire control officer. He said his business wanted to contribute, as long as there was a guarantee it went directly to where it was needed most.

"I was in the Rural Fire Service for 25 years and I can see what (bushfire) does and know what happens to people, and it's very hard to get kickstarted again," Mr Collingburn said.

"A lot of these people have lost everything. It nearly wiped out Nymboida. It's got to go where it's needed, not where we're going to get kudos.

Mr Collingburn hoped his donation might encourage other businesses to "kick the can".

Half the fifty $100 vouchers donated by YWE have been delivered to the Salvation Army at Grafton, with the other half going to Maclean.

 

The Lower Clarence community gave generously to the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal at Maclean Bowling Club.
The Lower Clarence community gave generously to the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal at Maclean Bowling Club.

 

The generosity in the Lower Clarence has been just as unbelievable, including Maclean Bowling Club receiving a donation of approximately $10,000 worth of toys from Nungera Cooperative to go towards the appeal.

 

Nungera Cooperative chairperson Anthony (Sam) Kapeen donated approximately $10,000 (retail price) worth of toys to Maclean Bowling Club for the bushfire effected families.
Nungera Cooperative chairperson Anthony (Sam) Kapeen donated approximately $10,000 (retail price) worth of toys to Maclean Bowling Club for the bushfire effected families.


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