27 April 2023

A treasure for those in need, Cooma's Community Chest set to mark milestone

| Gail Eastaway
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Cooma Community Chest founder and chairperson Marnie Stewart is looking forward to the group’s 10th-anniversary celebrations on 29 April. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

The Cooma Community Chest will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday, 29 April, with a Great Gatsby-themed evening at the Cooma Car Club.

Guest speaker for the evening will be one of Cooma’s favourite sons, journalist and television presenter Steve Liebmann OAM, who will offer “Ramblings of an aged journalist” to entertain the crowd.

Steve started his media career at local radio station 2XL when he was still a student at Monaro High School. He enjoys returning to his home town whenever the occasion arises.

He was happy to help the Community Chest celebrate its milestone.

The charity has raised thousands of dollars over the past decade to support residents who have been struggling to get by.

Founding member and current chairperson Marnie Stewart was approached by a friend from Cowra Community Chest in 2012 to see whether she would be interested in forming a Cooma counterpart of the charity.

Marnie invited various community groups to a public meeting at the Cooma Car Club and from that event, the original committee was formed.

The Community Chest Inc was launched in April 2013 at the Raglan Gallery.

The founding members saw a need to help people who had fallen on hard times.

The Community Chest’s first major fundraising event was held at the newly refurbished Cooma Hotel functions room with dinner and an auction.

Since then, the committee has grown to a healthy 15, who are dedicated to helping those in need in their community.

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The group also has a dedicated team of volunteers who selflessly give up their time to assist with fundraising efforts.

Over the years, the Community Chest has held many successful fundraising events, including the “Fashionation” in 2014, as well as Christmas in July dinner and auction nights.

Each year it coordinates Christmas hampers for families in need.

The Community Chest has four foundations, including Keeping Kids in Sport, Early Education, and Arts and Academia.

The foundations foster, encourage and support families with the costs of their children’s sporting and academic interests.

The focus is not only on school-aged children.

The Community Chest strongly supports those who have fallen victim to other problems, including homelessness, domestic violence and significant health issues.

As such, the newest foundation, Mental Health & Wellbeing, has been established.

As well as the foundations, the Community Chest has helped, and continues to help, residents who need access to medical care. This includes accommodation, travel and assistance with ”gap” payments.

The Community Chest does not hand out cash, but reimburses receipts for those in need.

But despite the assistance, the organisation has delivered to so many people, its request to be granted DGR (tax refund status) has been consistently refused because the group’s scope is “too broad”.

“We are given so many donations and we can’t offer the donors a tax refund opportunity,” Marnie explained.

It is an issue Marnie will continue to pursue with local politicians.

She is hoping more people will book in for this Saturday’s celebration and take the opportunity to catch up with Steve Liebmann, who is volunteering his time.

Tickets for the evening are $125 and can be bought at the Trybooking website.

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