News

Locals urged to donate to Vinnies Winter Appeal as ‘surge’ in need expected

By Charmayne Allison

Restrictions may be lifting but the true challenges of COVID-19 are yet to come, Shepparton's St Vincent de Paul Society has warned.

The organisation is urging locals to give generously to the Vinnies Winter Appeal, as the charity braces for soaring need as the pandemic continues to unfold.

In Shepparton and Mooroopna, Vinnies is currently responding to an average of 35 calls for assistance a week, including about 20 people ineligible for any government assistance.

And this is only set to climb.

“We expect this number to rise significantly once the government subsidies dry up,” St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria regional central council president Bernie Trevaskis said.

“In fact, we are very worried about this as, in Victoria, Vinnies does not receive government funding.

“We are reliant on the funds generated by our Vinnies Shepparton and Vinnies Mooroopna shops and the generosity of Victorians through the Vinnies Winter Appeal to assist people who need us.”

Social distancing guidelines have seen Vinnies volunteers adapt their service delivery in recent months to support locals via phone calls, pick-ups and deliveries.

Mr Trevaskis said food, fuel and bills topped the list as the greatest needs.

“We either deliver food hampers to people’s doors or leave the hampers here at the back for people to pick up, if they can,” he said.

“We are also providing warm clothing, and the South Shepparton Rotary Club has generously donated tents, sleeping bags and doonas which we have also distributed during the cold months.”

Vinnies has also partnered with Notre Dame College in recent weeks to provide food to locals.

“While they have no students attending, they have been cooking delicious meals which we then distribute to people in need in Mooroopna and Shepparton,” Mr Trevaskis said.

While volunteers cannot visit people or families in their homes at this time, the charity said it was taking time to listen to locals over the phone.

“We know that during this pandemic many people are very lonely and we may be the only people they get to talk to for weeks,” Mr Trevaskis said.

In addition to aiding residents during the coronavirus crisis, the local Vinnies is continuing to offer vital support to help people deal with other curve balls life throws at them.

Such as when a local family of four recently lost everything in a house fire.

“It was terribly tragic,” Mr Trevaskis said.

“Vinnies teamed up with other local agencies to help the family get back on their feet.

“We supplied them with beds, bedding, household goods — even pots and pans. Basically everything they might need to set up house again.”

To donate to the Vinnies Winter Appeal, call 131 812 or visit: vinnies.org.au/covid19winterappeal

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