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WHAT WE ACHIEVED!!
- 1000 Bags of Love*
- 5-10 gift items in each Bag of Love.
- More than $250 approx value of each Bag of Love
- 70 House Bags**
- More than $350 approx value of each House Bag.
- 43 volunteers set up on Sat 21 April.
- At least 281 volunteers packed the Bags of Love and House Bags on Sun 22 April of whom 44 were children (not everyone signed in).
- 50 volunteers delivered the Bags of Love and House Bags to the refuges and safe houses
- LOTS & LOTS of people donated goods, love, hugs and donations.
- AND each agency comprising of several safe houses, received a $1000 grant which they're spending on a variety of things like children's play equipment, clothing, groceries, bedding as well as supermarket and cinema vouchers.
- AND not to forget all the time and effort the wonderful Board and many other volunteers who helped plan, coordinate, motivate, remind, cajole, collect, store, transport, create posts, posted posts, shared posts... and a zillion other things!!
** A House Bag is a humungous bag full of items for Case Workers to distribute to the women in their care on an as-need basis including hygene products, household products, dinner sets, clothing, bed linen and more.
impact is just about to turn 12, but I’ve only known of its existence for about a year, and have only actively been involved since later last year. Ever since I became involved though, I’ve been hearing about the packing days which were always described with such excitement and reverence. I couldn’t wait to be part of one.
On Sunday 22 April, when many people I suspect were still in bed, I turned up at Glen Eira College and from the moment I drove into the makeshift parking lot on the oval, I was mesmerised and enchanted.
I couldn’t make it on Saturday to assist with the set-up, but in a way I’m pleased about that because when I walked into the massive hall on Sunday morning, I was greeted by rows of red ‘Bags of Love’ lined up waiting to be stuffed, and tables of donated items as far as the eye could see. Even before any other volunteers arrived, it looked like an inviting space ready for action. And it only got more frenzied and engaging after that.
Quite some time before 10am, when the event was supposed to begin, eager volunteers started arriving, and many of them came with cars full of even more donated items. Each car was greeted by smiling volunteers with a trolley, and each person entering the hall was greeted by yet more smiling volunteers with computers, recording everyone’s names and details. Each person was then assigned a task and an area.
Soon after the packing began in earnest, a wonderful two-piece band arrived and kept the crowd entertained with show tunes, pop classics and a few love songs, which were quite appropriate since we were packing Bags of Love.
And Bags of Love they really were! Though not all 1,000 of them were identical, since most items were not donated in such large quantities, all of them had some toiletries, some chocolates, some gift items and a handwritten letter. Each bag was carefully packed and checked to ensure that not one of them missed out or didn’t have enough.
But the best part for me was the atmosphere in the room. With nearly 300 people around, I don’t think I heard a harsh word or a single negative sentiment in over 3 hours. In fact, most people couldn’t stop smiling and were in a constant sense of awe, excitement and cheerfulness.
Total strangers, who spent a couple of hours standing around a table wrapping gifts, walked away as friends, and I know this to be true because I saw them all taking selfies at the end.
For some people it was the first time they had interacted with police officers, some of whom were in uniform, and saw their human, caring sides coming through. For others, simply the organised chaos of so many people of all ages and all religions, working towards a common goal was utterly intoxicating.
This was the first packing day that I attended in person, but as long as the need remains, it certainly won’t be my last!