Dozens of local businesses, community organisations and individuals have leapt into action to help victims of the Australian bushfires via a new region-wide fundraising group.
Mahurangi Bushfire Aid is the brainchild of Warkworth resident Paul Wilson, who launched a Facebook campaign on January 5 looking for the best ways to send community aid across the ditch. There was a huge response and, within days, he organised meetings with people and groups interested in helping to coordinate fundraising efforts, and a Givealittle page was set up.
Warkworth Lions has agreed to spearhead the group and act as a repository for funds to ensure all money raised goes to where it is needed most, via Lions Australia. Local Lions member Peter Henderson says many people have friends and family in Australia, and the gravity of the situation really hit home when local skies darkened to an eerie orange on Sunday, January 12.
“It was unnerving, and we simply cannot imagine what our trans-Tasman neighbours are going through,” he says. “But by being involved in Mahurangi Bushfire Aid and helping co-ordinate a regional effort, we are at least able to give some assistance.”
Others involved in the group so far include One Warkworth, Dave Parker from the Warkworth International Relations Group, Rodney Local Board deputy chair Beth Houlbrooke and Glyn Williams from Warkworth Men’s Shed.
One Warkworth manager Murray Chapman says the moment he saw what Paul was trying to do, he knew the business association could and should help.
“From the people who have lost homes and businesses to the volunteer firemen who have not had a wage coming in for weeks, this obviously affects everyone in the community,” he says. “So I’m pleased our own community is so motivated and generous to help those affected.”
Fundraising initiatives have come in thick and fast, including collections last weekend at the Matakana Farmers Market and Shapeshifter concert, businesses sponsoring fours and sixes scored at Warkworth v Wellsford and Kaipara cricket matches, and Matakana Estate winery donating proceeds from 50 bottles of wine. Fundraisers to come include a Bushfire Barbecue at Warkworth Butchery this Saturday, January 18 and a community garage sale on February 9.
Individuals and groups can support Mahurangi Bushfire Aid by:
• Volunteering to collect donations at local events (see Mahurangi Bushfire Aid on Facebook)
• Running fundraising activities and channelling proceeds via Warkworth Lions
• Donating directly at givealittle.co.nz – Mahurangi Australian Bushfire Appeal
For more information, or to register and verify fundraising events, contact Peter Henderson on 027 477 6519 or Murray Chapman on 027 496 6550.