Sisters are doing it for the kids
IF YOU'VE ever wondered if one or two people can change the world, Central Coast Kids in Need sisters Lorraine Churchill and Rhonda Doyle provide the answer.
CCKIN was established about 26 years ago, with both sisters involved for 15 years or more.
Secretary and treasurer respectively, they are responsible for the group's day-to-day running, helping 2641 families with seriously ill children over the past 14 years at a cost of more than $3.2 million.
"To our knowledge, we're the only group of our kind in NSW, possibly Australia," Lorraine said.
"We don't have any paid staff and we don't get any government assistance, so we rely on grants and donations and the community spirit and generosity of the people of the Central Coast.
"We love what we do with a passion and our kids are everything - there's nothing more important."
A small volunteer group of about 20, CCKIN pays for everything from accommodation and travel expenses for families with kids undergoing specialised treatments in Sydney/Newcastle hospitals, to ongoing high-cost prescriptions, specialised formulas and quality-of-life equipment.
Lorraine said these children were primarily cancer patients, premature babies and those with life-threatening health issues such as heart, lung and liver problems.
However, increasingly, the group is also helping out families whose children have physical and mental disabilities, are on the autism spectrum, have ADHD, and other issues requiring high-cost medications.
"It's incredible, it doesn't matter how sick these little kids are, they can still smile ... and that's our reward, what we do for these families and helping make life a little happier and easier for them," Lorraine said.
Some children, she pointed out, are in hospital or need constant care for months on end, putting enormous strain on families who often go from two salaries to one or for single parents, to no salary, and face normal daily costs of living as well as paying for treatment and travel.
Many, she said, were reluctant to seek help, feeling "there's others worse off than us".
To give some idea of the growth of demand, in 2005 CCKIN helped 38 families at a cost of $53,009.
In the last financial year, it helped 368 families at a cost of $451,881.
HOW IT WORKS
"Not too many sisters can work together as closely as we do," Lorraine said of the Entrance-born and bred duo.
"We talk 3-4 times a day, letting each other know what is happening and doing a handover at the end of each day.
"My sister Rhonda got me involved after I lost my husband at quite a young age and CCKIN has been my saving grace.
"When you lose someone that close to you, it makes you want to help as many other people as possible."
The group raises funds through donation boxes in local businesses, charity days, recycling and an annual raffle in conjunction with The Adam Hillier Surf Classic in October, as well as support from local sporting and social groups and businesses.
At Christmas, it also has wishing trees located at Chittaway Bay Tavern and other venues across the Coast, and distributes House of Praise hampers.
"I can't tell you what it feels like because some parents tell us that without us their kids wouldn't have had a Christmas," Lorraine said.
CCKIN's volunteers primarily come from families the organisation has helped, but Lorraine said they were open to anyone willing to lend a hand, as well as provide donations, including petrol and gift cards, and stamps for postage.
A trivia night Inspired by Lyzer (one of the children helped) is being held for CCKIN at Mingara Club from 6.30pm on Saturday, August 24 for $20 per person. Phone Samantha on 0422 533 642, or look on Facebook or Eventbrite.
For more on CCKIN, phone Lorraine on 0428 326 284 or go to CCKIN.com.au.