MENDOORAN mother of four Kristen Campbell was viewing coverage of the Warrumbungles bushfire when something inside her clicked.
“I was watching the news with my sister. And I thought, ‘they need something done.’
Kristen posted a message on her Facebook page asking for assistance which she hoped to channel to those who have lost everything in the wake of the disaster.
Almost immediately, she was overwhelmed with offers of support and quickly established a public page, ‘Donations for people affected by Coonabarabran fires.’
The effort snowballed, and Kristen soon found herself coordinating donations from townships across the region. Using Dubbo Horseland as a base, she has been receiving items and equipment from Wellington, Gilgandra, Coolah, Rylstone, Gulargambone, Wee Waa and Dubbo residents. There are also offers coming in from as far away as Grafton and Sydney from people who want to help.
Kristen is utilising the help of friends and strangers with utes and trailers and using her own 4WD and horse float to take loads to the fire-ravaged township.
She has the support of a dozen or so people who are collecting, driving and sorting donations.
Looking at the latest donations of clothing and essentials which are piled on the floor of the local retailer, Kristen shakes her head in disbelief. There is everything from nappies and baby clothing to boxes of cereal and a pram. There’s even a cute little pink plastic tricycle with purple wheels.
“It’s really overwhelming,” she said.
“The response has been massive.”
Kristen has poured her own personal savings into the appeal, purchasing canned food and toiletries for those in need. It was money she’d put aside for a holiday, but feels that others are more needy.
“We don’t have a lot ourselves but we have clothes, food and a house, we’ve still got those things. If it happened to us, I hope that someone would do the same.”
Back home, Kristen’s family is very proud of her efforts. Her own life is on hold, including being with her children and horses. But it’s had a resounding effect on them too.
“They think it’s really good. My four-year-old daughter Paige even donated a doll she got for Christmas. She said, ‘I’m doing it because some other girl’s dollies have been burnt.”
While Kristen said it’s chaotic in Coonabarabran at the moment, the feedback she has received is that everyone is “really, really grateful.”
Ironically, the difficulty now lies in trying to cope with the influx of donations which range from electric fencing to generators and bales of hay.
To become involved, visit the dedicated Facebook page.