NSW South Coast Vinnies members have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Brisbane locals after receiving over 220 letters and cards of support from children to people affected by bushfires, and a staggering $20,000 to support bushfire recovery.  


Stafford Parish priest, Father Denis Scanlon, organised with Alison Golden, President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Stafford Conference to fundraise for people affected by fires on the south coast. The parish raised an impressive $20,000 over one weekend of Masses – the highest ever raised for an appeal.  


President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Narooma Conference, Christine Hunstdale, said, ‘I received a call out of the blue from Brisbane. She said, “you don’t know me, but we’ve heard about what you are going through and we want to help”, then told me they’d raised all this money. I was astonished – and delighted!’  

 

“It’s just … you can’t find the words to express the fact that a whole bunch of people have thought about you – they don’t know you and they’re a long, long way away from where you are – and they care so much that they’re going to all get together and give what they can,” Ms Huntsdale said.  

 

Narooma Conference covers a large area of the coast and hinterland which was severely affected by bushfires this summer, including the small town of Cobargo, that made international headlines due to the devastation experienced there.  
 

Ms Huntsdale didn’t tell the rest of the Narooma Vinnies members about the generous gift from the north, preferring to leave that to Ms Golden. During a regular meeting of the St Vincent de Paul Society Narooma Conference, Ms Golden FaceTimed the group to tell them of the donation.  
 

‘Our Vincentians greeted the news with exclamations and cheers. Spontaneous applause followed,’ said Ms Huntsdale. 

‘Along with the financial donation, we received a very large parcel of the most heartfelt letters and cards, colouring ins and drawings from all the children at Our Lady of the Apostles Catholic primary school in Stafford. I think I counted over 220 letters and cards,’ Ms Huntsdale said. 
 

‘Look – you just had tears in your eyes reading them. All these children had written a little card or a little letter of encouragement. - “You used to be very strong, you can be strong again” – all these lovely little messages– “you’re awesome”, and all these wonderful drawings,  to be given out to children from families who have lost their homes or been affected by the fires,’ Ms Huntsdale said. 

And she said in one way the letters and cards from the kids were “as exciting as the money” because it meant the people of Stafford could be “there” for the people down south. 

The letters, cards and pictures were all sent to the local schools in the fire affected areas.  

 

All funds donated to the Bushfire Appeal go directly to people who have been impacted by the fires this summer. Vinnies has supported over 3000 households in the Canberra/Goulburn region, providing financial assistance, material aid, connection to specialised services, and emotional support.

 

‘We are so grateful to all who contributed to help those affected. We will ensure that those who most need the help will receive this most generous donation from a very considerate and caring parish,’ said Ms Huntsdale.

16 April 2020