Bake sale and Rotary join forces

AN astounding amount of money has been raised for bushfire relief at the town bake sale which was held at the Warracknabel Town Hall last Friday.

Featuring over 40 different iterations of baked goods and spreading over six stalls in the Town Hall foyer, the sale, which included a raffle, raised a total of $4,248.

Bake sale organiser Tenille Jonasson said the bake sale was a true testament to the goodwill of the people in the Warracknabeal community.

“We are really pleased at the success of the sale,” she said.

“It just shows that our little community has such great genrosity and we hope our sum of donation will make a difference in the relief of those affected by the terrible fires,” Mrs Jonnasson said.

Businesses and organisations across the locale donated goods to both the bake sale and the raffle.

The donation of joey pouches that were sewn on the same day are still being accepted at Menance Toys in Scott-st, with the pouches set to be sent off after this coming Monday.

Bernie O’Connor is also to be thanked for his generous offering of shouting the sewing volunteers coffee on Friday also.

After the bake sale, quick thinking occurred between a few dedicated community members who created an action plan to make sure the donations from the community went to proper use.

Cameron Whelan, Warracknabeal Fire Brigade captain who recently visited the town of Walwa, a small community on the former Murray Valley highway, 115 kilometres from Wodonga, during his deployment on a strike team into the high country of Victoria, lobbied with bake sale organisers to request the money raised can be funneled straight to the struggling community.

“During the ongoing bushfires, their surrounding farming land and livestock have sustained considerable damage and loss,” Cpt Whelan said.

“The National parks have almost been totally consumed by fire however, the township itself has been spared due to the stoic work of the local Walwa CFA brigade,” Cpt Whelan said.

“The CFA strike team made up of members from the Wimmera, CFA District 17 (strike team 1701) arrived in the small town and we were the first crews to render assistance,” Cpt Whelan said.

“What crews found were folk who were soldering on in the face of adversity but below the surface extremely exhausted,” he said.

“The work of the strike team was not only to provide extra support to manage the fires but to provide that empathetic approach and be a reassuring presence,”

“Listening to tales of loss, hardship and a feeling of somewhat being forgotten, triggered a strong need to support this region and give them a hand to get back up,” Cpt Whelan said.

Upon returning from the strike team duties a committee and members of the strike team are continuing their work to directly help the Walwa region.

Since means of communication to Walwa have now been restored, contact was made through their Bush Nursing Hospital via Walwa resident Sandy Greeves and the Primary School via principal Steven Lynch to establish their greatest needs.  

“This gave clear direction for the fundraising and will allow 100 per cent of all fundraising to go the locals and can be used, how and where needed,” Cpt Whelan said.

“Firstly, money is required and will be distributed immediately to people who are finding it difficult to access funds elsewhere.”

“At present all roads to Walwa are blocked to general traffic so accessing Government departments or other financial institutions is difficult.”

“Money raised will be managed directly by the Bush Nursing Hospital and will be used accordingly to what their primary needs are,” Cpt Whelan said.

“As the vast majority of the farming land had their last remaining feed taken away by the fires, a desperate need to supply hay to the region is a priority.”

“Wimmera farmers are being sourced to donate feed and transport to get vital feed to what remaining livestock remain,” he said.

Lastly the Walwa fundraising team is dedicated to assisting young children who have been affected by the fires.

“Bushfires not only destroy the natural and man made environment but have an everlasting impact on children.”

“Trauma is a major concern for anyone effected by natural disasters and we will be establishing in conjunction with the Walwa Primary School a welfare fund for their students.”

“Their Principal and School Council will manage the funds with uniforms and support for families being the focus,” Cpt Whelan said.

The Rotary Club of Warracknabeal have just committed to donating $5,000 to the Walwa assistance fund, while also committing to helping organise the distribution of feed and fodder to the community.

Rotary Club president Tony Gregson was steadfast in supporting District 17s strike team.

“The strike teams personal connections to the Walwa and surrounding areas added a further dimension to the Rotary club’s contribution to the strike team’s bushfire relief fund,” Mr Gregson said.

“The Australia Day gold coin donation to the morning breakfast and awards will supplement the Rotary Club’s contribution to the project,” Dr Gregson said.

The relief fund committee is humbled at the generous contribution by the Rotary Club of Warracknabeal in supporting their cause.

Captain Whelan is encouraging any committees or businesses who are planning bushfire fundraising efforts to consider funneling their efforts into the Walwa fund, which he says will have a direct impact on such a beautiful but struggling community.

“We are seeking any organisation, fundraising committee and people to use this opportunity as a conduit to assist the people in the Walwa and surrounding districts.”

“As there are no administrative fees, 100 per cent of funds and livestock feed will go directly to where it’s needed and quickly,” Cpt Whelan concluded.

People and organisations who are wanting to donate to the Walwa cause can do so by transferring funds to the Warracknabeal Action Group main bank account.

BSB: 633-000
Account number: 149878134.

For anyone who wants more information on the Walwa fundraising efforts, please contact Cameron Whelan on 0434 730 686 or any of the Walwa team including Julianne Phelan, Nadine Whelan, Tenille Jonasson and Stacey Drage.