BlazeAid's volunteers, many of whom are retirees and Grey Nomads, work with farmers after natural disasters such as fire, cyclone and floods.
BlazeAid's volunteers, many of whom are retirees and Grey Nomads, work with farmers after natural disasters such as fire, cyclone and floods.

Helping hands reach out to fire victims

IF you are feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to help the fire recovery effort without big dollars behind you, Country Paradise Parklands and three Gold Coast Men's Sheds have come up with an answer.

On Saturday, February 8, a BlazeAid fundraiser will be held in the Nerang parklands from 4-9pm and it is hoped a couple of thousand people will attend.

"It's completely by the community for the community," Nerang Men's Shed president Paul Lannen said.

"Everyone needs a bit of a morale boost at the moment and this is a great way to help out some of the people most affected by the fires at the same time."

BlazeAid is a volunteer-based, wholly Australian charity organisation that works with farmers after natural disasters such as fire, cyclone and floods.

It was started by Kilmore East farmers Kevin and Rhonda Butler after Black Saturday in February 2009.

They realised how important co-ordinated volunteer help could be after family and friends helped them rebuild their fences to secure their 1500 sheep in less than a week.

It's a task that would have taken them months alone, and added to their losses - and an experience repeated throughout devastated farming communities regardless of the stock or crops.

Since then, thousands of long- and short-term BlazeAid volunteers from across Australia and the world have set up camps and worked alongside rural families rebuilding fences and other structures damaged or destroyed in disaster-affected areas.

As well as the practical help - with more than 14,000 volunteers giving about 102,000 days helping 3870 properties to 2016 - BlazeAid says what they do also lifts the spirits of hard-hit communities.

There is even a special Grey Nomads BlazeAid Facebook page, allowing those with spare time on their hands while travelling to help out.

Paul said his original concept of a simple barbecue fundraiser for the cause ballooned as soon as the idea was raised, with everyone wanting to play a part, including the Vietnam Veterans and Labrador Men's Sheds and Nerang's Sheilas Shed. The plan is for music and other entertainment, food vans, a sausage sizzle, children's activities, cake, plant, craft and other market stands, visiting emergency vehicles and more.

Donations are still being sought for a giant auction, as well as raffle prizes.

Parking will be by gold coin donation to a local bushfire brigade.

"Every cent will go to aid victims of the fires, the firies and farmers," Paul said.

To find out more about BlazeAid or how to become a volunteer go to https://blazeaid.com.au/ or phone 0418 530 471.

For details on the parklands fundraiser or to offer donations of goods or services, phone Paul on 0447 667 606.


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