The team at GIVIT was brought onboard by the NSW Government this year in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires to organise donations and get them to the right people at the right time.
In the first 10 years of its existence, GIVIT made one million donations to non-profits and individuals. It has repeated that number just in the past 18 months, by making one million more.
GIVIT regional NSW manager Caroline Odgers says the needs vary, from water tanks and generators to items as simple as a bookcase.
“Because it’s coming up to the one year anniversary of the Black Summer bushfires, we have people who are experiencing mental health distress, and needing items to help relieve the pressure,” she says.
“Recreational items that were lost in the fires, such as kayaks, musical instruments and anything that helps take the mind off events of the past summer.”
GIVIT has also received many requests for water tanks and generators because development applications to rebuild require water and power onsite, but they are expensive items. Businesses and individuals can donate cash to GIVIT to specifically fund these items, says Caroline.
“A lady who lived just near the Clyde requested just a bookshelf so we managed to match her request with a donation,” she says. “As it turned out, her paperwork was the mental barrier that was keeping her from taking that first step towards action to rebuild her life.
“Now she has a bookshelf and she can organise her paperwork. But like many others, that’s the first step in overcoming the shock of what happened last summer.
“Other requests are so humble and so small, such as the retired couple who moved to the NSW South Coast two weeks before the fires and joined the Rural Fire Service. They lost their home and everything they owned while they were fighting the fires, and then COVID-19 happened and they are camping on their block in a caravan.
“All they wanted was a couple of bags of cement to make some new paths, and some fairy lights and a trestle table so they could eat outside.”
Caroline has helped coordinate almost 300,000 donated items to support communities from Shoalhaven to Eurobodalla and Queanbeyan-Palerang, down to the Bega Valley and Snowy Valley as residents continue to recover from the bushfires.
Currently, there are more than 5000 items listed on GIVIT, needed across bushfire affected NSW communities.
To donate or obtain more information about GIVIT’s NSW Bushfires Appeal, visit the GIVIT website. One hundred per cent of all cash donations go directly to purchasing items – from local businesses wherever possible – for people in need.
Volunteers are also needed in local communities to coordinate and organise requests, and volunteer skills can include anything from trades to web design or administration.
Caroline says donating skills and time to help a family get back on its feet is just as valuable as a cash donation.
“Even if you donate your skills, it makes such a difference,” she says. “We had a landscape gardener help design a new garden. We work with businesses and farmers right through to boarding houses for men; they needed a landscape architect to design their outdoor area so we listed a request on the site and a generous landscape architect did a design for them.
“A small act of kindness can make such a difference to a stranger.”
Caroline encourages all charities and community groups which are supporting bushfire affected communities to register with GIVIT, which is free, so they can request and receive the specific items their communities need.