By Romy Stephens
Numerous fire brigades from the Yarra Ranges were inundated with goods during recent bushfire relief donation drives.
The chain of donation efforts began on 2 January, after Coldstream resident Georgia Appleton Tyrrell and Coldstream Fire Brigade worked together to collect goods for those impacted by the East Gippsland bushfires.
Before they knew it, the brigade was completely overwhelmed with donations.
“To say it got out of proportion is an understatement,” Coldstream Fire Brigade Captain Sean Bethell said.
Sean said the success of the first drive saw them coordinate more collection points at brigades in Lilydale, Gruyere and Belgrave.
Once these brigades also became overwhelmed, brigades at Ferntree Gully and Upper Ferntree Gully jumped on board.
Sean said goods from all six brigades were then collated at a Cameron transport factory on Stud Road, Bayswater.
In total, there were about 750 pallets worth of goods and $18,000 in gift voucher donations.
“When we first started we had an open invitation to send the goods to Bairnsdale,” Sean said.
“When it came time to send the goods to Bairnsdale they said they didn’t want any.
“Sale Air Force were accepting goods, but they wouldn’t take any goods without a full inventory of what was on the bus which wasn’t possible.
“We then started ringing up the shires of Alpine, Corryong and Wodonga.”
Sean said pallets ended up being accepted by a relief centre in Wodonga.
He said about 200 pallets have already been processed and that in the end, the pallets will be sorted onto shelves so those impacted by the fires can go through and pick what they need.
“I would love to rattle off all the companies and people that assisted us but there is just way too many to fit on the page,” he said.
“I just can’t believe the commitment, the generosity of not only the public but the brigade members and the businesses that got behind us.
“I’m so proud that we put our hand up and we battled through and achieved the end goal.”
The CFA and Premier Daniel Andrews have now urged people to stop donating goods to bushfire-affected communities, with relief centres overwhelmed by donations.
Money can still be donated to the CFA, the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, the Red Cross, RSPCA, WIRES, Wildlife Victoria and more.