In the midst of a seven-day statewide COVID-19 lock-down, Limestone Coast charities and businesses sprang into action to spread hope.
As the state emerges from the lockdown, stories are emerging of good deeds carried out to help those heavily impacted by the snap closure. Local businesses rallied to lend a hand to those in need, with thousands of meals donated and businesses driving customers to support other businesses, despite not operating over the lockdown period.
At the same time, regional homelessness service ac.care worked with motels and caravan park operators to ensure people facing homelessness had somewhere safe to escape cold and wet winter conditions.
At least 1000 cooked meal packs, 164 litres of milk and a staggering 200 loaves of bread were offered to locals in need over the weekend by charity Spare ya Change 4 Kids and Bakers Delight.
The founder of the Mount Gambier-based charity and owner of café ConfessionsHQ, Don Pratt said the cafe’s regular milkie Paul Kenny had donated nine crates of nine two-litre milks, free of charge, towards Spare ya Change’s lockdown food drive.
In addition, Millicent’s Kings Crunchy Chicken joined the food drive to donate cooked chicken and salad packs, providing further meals for those that needed them over the lockdown weekend. And, as Sunday went on, local food delivery service Eat-ezy jumped on board to help by providing free delivery to anyone that needed food delivered to them on Sunday.
“Generosity really is infectious,” Mr Pratt told The SE Voice. Committing to help the most vulnerable during the South Australian lockdown, Blue Lake Indian Restaurant and Grocery provided free vegetarian meals to those that needed them. After issuing a public appeal to residents on the Limestone Coast, the restaurant provided for those that were unemployed, homeless, in quarantine or elderly residents.
In addition, the restaurant said it would provide food for schools to distribute to vulnerable families and children. Meanwhile, increased emergency support from the State Government for people experiencing homelessness during the lockdown period allowed ac. care to ensure vulnerable people could comply with the “stay at home” order and have a warm place to sleep at night.
“We have been very successful in being able to find a place for most people to be able to spend the night across the Limestone Coast, Riverland and Murraylands,” ac.care chief executive Shane Maddocks said. “We work closely with accommodation providers and are really well-supported by the motels, hotels and caravan parks, but also when we look ideally to get people into longer term accommodation with local real estate agents and landlords for private rentals as well.”
The lockdown coincided with the government declaring a Code Blue due to forecast extreme weather conditions. “As essential services, our sites remained open so we could get people out of the weather quickly, working within COVID-19 restrictions while allowing people access to a hot drink and meal while they were quickly supported to access somewhere safe and warm to stay,” Mr Maddocks said.
However, the agency went beyond accommodating people to escape the elements, with essential workers in ac.care’s Mount Gambier Community Centre also using donated produce to prepare meals to provide to vulnerable people during the challenging times.
“We have been supporting people with food drops, with staff cooking up a storm and delivering food to people,” Mr Maddocks said. “They delivered enough on the Friday to support people over the weekend because we knew many did not have access to kitchens or food supplies.”