Parish appeal raises $100,000
By Kathleen Carmody
The St Vincent de Paul Society raised more than $100,000 through its parish bushfire appeal at the start of the month.
This was in addition to $20,000 raised through its appeal hotline in the preceding weeks, bringing the appeal total to $120,000 at the time of writing.
St Vincent de Paul approached parish priests who issued an appeal announcement from the pulpit.
The appeal took place after each Mass on the weekend of January 5-6.
Owen Rogers, St Vincent de Paul’s executive officer. praised the generosity of the parishes and the public.
“The generosity of people has been absolutely outstanding,” he said.
“They really should be thanked for their generosity.
“It’s amazing how people get together to support their brother and sister in crisis.
“They give everything they possibly can and they’re able to say they have contributed.
“If you were to go out again next week they’d be there again.”
St Declan’s parish in Penshurst raised more than $7,500 in the appeal.
Gerard Burns, treasurer of the St George conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society, praised his parish’s response.
“We are just an unbelievably generous and vibrant parish,” he said.
“And it overwhelms me every time we have an appeal – Winter, Christmas and special appeals – that the parishioners really do come forward in a big way.”
Mr Burns said it was an Australian trait to come together to help people in times of crisis.
“When anyone’s in strife people line up just to do something, to help somebody,” he said.
“You don’t want disaster to be the lynchpin of society but it shows you that barriers can be broken down very quickly when you’ve got a crisis on your hands.
The money raised by St Vincent de Paul will go directly to the NSW Department of Community Services to be distributed to the victims of the bushfires.
A committee consisting of departmental officers and representatives of charities and other non-government organisations was to meet during the week to determine the criteria for distribution of financial aid to victims.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is represented on the committee by the president of its State Disaster Recovery team, Barry Smith.
Society executive officer Owen Rogers said the committee would “oversee the management and distribution of funds to ensure that there’s a prompt and equitable distribution of money to bushfire victims”.
By mid-January, more than $3 million had been raised in the state-wide appeal co-ordinated by the department, including $1 million each from the state and federal governments.
People affected by the fires should register at a recovery centre so their needs can be assessed.
There are six recovery centres in operation – in Springwood, Warragamba, Helensburgh, Nowra, Vincentia and Sussex Inlet.