The Echuca Salvation Army has been inundated with offers of help since fire destroyed its youth hall, storage shed and Christmas Appeal toys earlier this month.By Renee Thompson
‘Huge’ seems to best describe the space now housing furniture spared from the Echuca Salvation Army’s shed fire earlier this month.
It is also the word Echuca Salvation Army Lieutenant Mark Smith uses to describe the community’s response to the Salvos’ appeal for help after the fire.
‘‘The community has responded very well. They have responded with real vigour and it’s just a great surprise,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s been a huge response.’’
The fires, which gutted the Sturt St sheds on October 2, destroyed the Salvos’ youth hall and burnt emergency relief items, furniture and toys stored for the Salvos’ annual Christmas Appeal.
The Riv launched an appeal to help the Salvos in the weeks following and offers began streaming in.
‘‘I can’t even fathom the amount of money that has been offered to us, which will help us out over this Christmas period with not so much just the toys, but the general funding of the sheds,’’ Lieutenant Smith said.
He estimated about $8000 had been donated so far.
‘‘We’ve had some very generous benefactors come forward from within the community who have granted us a lot of money,’’ he said.
‘‘There was one who donated us $5000 straight up. They said, ‘there, that’s yours, do what you need with it’.
Lieutenant Smith said it was not just financial help the community had been generous with.
‘‘Macca’s Demolition dropped off a shipping container for us and even hired the crane to lift it in place,’’ he said.
The container is being used to store what is left of the Salvos’ Christmas Appeal toys which survived the fire.
He said another local, Dale Zanella, had approached him after the Riv’s article on October 9 called for offers to help find the Salvos a storage space.
Mr Zanella has since organised to put them up in a vacant shop front on Ogilvie Ave, near Repco.
Lieutenant Smith said the space was about 800sqm.
‘‘I did laugh when he said ‘I’ve got a little place’, then my eyes popped out of my head when I saw it,’’ he said.
The space has just been set up with furniture in the past week and means the Salvos can get its thrift-shop up and running again.
‘‘We’ve been very lucky to have that happen for us,’’ he said.
‘‘So we want to have this as a space we can utilise, not necessarily a place where everyone can bring everything.
‘‘We want to highlight people can take stuff like furniture there (when the shop is open), but we don’t want it to become a dumping ground. That’s my big fear.’’
Offers of support had also come from within Salvation Army, Lieutenant Smith said.
‘‘We’ve got Salvos coming up from Moreland next month,’’ he said.
Along with the Echuca talent night fundraiser on November 16, the Salvos plan to put on two other community events, one which will see a brass band play on a Murray River paddlesteamer and another band event at Hopwood Gardens, around the same time.
‘‘They’re certainly going to put a lot of effort into getting those events happening,’’ Lieutenant Smith said.
‘‘That’s one thing the Salvos can do to say thanks, we can play music quite well. So they’re coming up to do those two events and the talent night.’’
Lieutenant Smith said he also wanted to express his personal thanks for the response.
‘‘The community has really rallied around,’’ he said.
‘‘And that’s what this community does, when there’s a big disaster or something’s happened, there’s always a huge response, straight away.
‘‘I think it’s a bit of the Aussie spirit really, rally around your mates.’’
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It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Echuca Football Club has signed Joel Magnabosco and Kane Morris for next season.
On Friday Rochester’s St Joseph’s Primary School opened a time capsule which was buried in the 1980s.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Lisa Milligan has started a new dog grooming business in Heathcote to help fund her Wild ABout Wildlife centre in Kilmore.
Alistair Davey will return to his roots to teach Cobram Primary children the joy of music.
Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says plans are in the works on how to get natural gas to Deniliquin.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
Benalla Racing Club is hosting a Kids’ Race Day for Down Syndrome Victoria after general manager Bradley Thomas and his wife Brie’s son Lewis was diagnosed with Down syndrome this year.
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