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Overwhelming support for bushfire victims

Monday, 6th January, 2020

Nicky Picken, Juanita McInnes, Shani Spencer and Chelsea Ryan with some of the items already dropped off at the Old Willyama Motel in Iodide Street. PICTURE: Michael Murphy Nicky Picken, Juanita McInnes, Shani Spencer and Chelsea Ryan with some of the items already dropped off at the Old Willyama Motel in Iodide Street. PICTURE: Michael Murphy

By Michael Murphy

The horrific toll of Australian bushfires has touched the hearts of people all around the world.

There is growing global and celebrity support for bushfire fundraising efforts - even reality TV star Kim Kardashian West is lending a hand, sharing social media links on how to donate money.

In Broken Hill, a group of women are rallying to help victims by providing a way for residents to donate goods.

Nicky Picken, Juanita McInnes, Shani Spencer and Chelsea Ryan have organised drop off points in the city, a large storage shed, and they have contacts in the trucking industry.

They will be making ‘pillow case care packages’ for men, women, little boys, little girls, and babies.

Juanita, who co-manages the Old Willyama Motel with Chelsea, got the ball rolling locally, and was surprised about how quickly the relief effort escalated.

“I came into work yesterday to see Chelsea, and we were just saying how we felt about all the fires, and wanted to something to help,” Juanita said yesterday.

“It started off with us wanting to donate some little care packages, and it then turned into something a lot bigger.

“Shani and Nicky then contacted us about a Facebook page they just created, and we have just joined together.

“It has got a lot bigger than we thought.”

Broken Hill supermarket Coles immediately jumped on board and has put out large collection bins for shoppers to place items.

The Barrier Daily Truth is also a drop-off point, people can leave items in the foyer in front of the editorial department, where items are usually left for the newspaper’s Christmas appeal.

Some charity organisations are only accepting cash donations at this stage, but the local group wanted to provide a way for local people to help.

“We would rather give goods than money, we have got a big shed, and I have reached out to a friend in the trucking industry, who is going to help us with trucks when the time comes,” Juanita said.

“It been heartbreaking, absolutely heart-breaking, it’s been really sad for us to see.

“Obviously, we want to help and give something to those who need it.”

One of the women in the group, Shani, said her partner’s family had lost properties: one in Ebor, NSW, near Armidale, and two in Ulladalla, on the NSW south coast, not far from Bateman’s Bay.

“We haven’t got in contact with the family in Ulladalla because there’s no phone reception there,” Shani said.

“We tried last night, but it went straight to message bank.”

Many around the world, including people in the Far West of NSW, have donated money to the NSW Rural Fire Service thanks to fundraising efforts of Australian comedian Celeste Barber.

Barber, who won over fans with her celebrity parodies on Instagram, has helped raise more than $25million in less than three days.

Barber drew pledges from as far the UK, US, and France.

The comedian posted photos on Friday of a fire-red sky bearing down on her mother-in-law’s NSW house. 

“It’s terrifying. They are scared. They need your help,” she wrote on Facebook.

On Saturday, she reported her family was being evacuated: “I feel sick.”

American pop star Pink has also pledged $500,000 for Aussie fire services.

“I am totally devastated watching what is happening in Australia right now with the horrific bushfires,” the singer tweeted to her 32 million Twitter followers on Saturday.

“I am pledging a donation of $500,000 directly to the local fire services that are battling so hard on the front lines.

“My heart goes out to our friends and family in Oz fire services.”

A separate fundraiser for the WIRES Wildlife Rescue service in NSW has raised more than $773,000, surpassing a $500,000 target, in one day.

You can contact the local group through the Facebook Page ‘Broken Hill Donations for fire affected family’s’ or just drop into the Old Willyama Motel.





Anything along these lines:


Water, pet food, pet bowls, pillow cases, shoe boxes, boxes, zip lock bags, face washers, saline, nasal cleaner, tooth brushes, tooth paste, lip balm, hand sanitizer, shaving cream, razors, hand wash, sunscreen, roll-on deodorant, nappies, wipes, baby food, brushes, hair ties, hydrolite, energy drinks, anti-fungal creams, sanitary items pads/tampons, colouring books and pencils, non-perishable items/tin food.




At this stage, they aren’t taking clothes or furniture as the donation stations have been bombarded.




Old Willyama Motel-Mon-Fri, 7.30am-5pm.


141 Ryan Street-Mon-Fri, 5-7pm


Coles Supermarket-during opening hours


Barrier Daily Truth-during opening hours


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