Generosity overwhelms bushfire victims

Source: Cooma-Monaro Express

The generosity of the a country community has shone in the past week as residents dug deep to help a local family in need.

The McKenzie family, of Cooma in south NSW, were left homeless after a bushfire destroyed their home and most of their belongings on the Mount Forest Road Carlaminda last Tuesday.

Geoff and Nicole McKenzie have three young children - Connor, 8, Tyler, 6, and Elizabeth, 2. They were left with nothing except the belongings they could fit into the boot of their car.

Their friend Jim McDonald from the Cooma Martial Arts Centre offered them temporary accommodation and set up an appeal to help the family get back on their feet.

On Friday, Mr McDonald said there had been an overwhelming response to the call for donations from the local community.

He said the phone had not stopped ringing all week and he had received calls from people in Sydney and Canberra as well as locals.

"At this time we have made some progress to bring the McKenzie family's life back to some kind of normality or as normal as it can be after losing everything," he said.

"First I must thank everyone for their compassion and generosity, especially the two ladies who walked in on Friday with cash donations because they knew that that was what was needed right away."

Nicole McKenzie said she was overwhelmed by the response.

"We just can't believe how everyone has really gotten together for us," she said.

"It's been amazing. Especially what Jim has done for us.

"What everyone has done it has made such a bad situation easier to deal with."

Mr McDonald has established a community account through the Westpac Bank to raise money for the family.

"We have now established a community account. Thanks to Chris Hannah at the Westpac Bank who incredibly did the impossible and had everything complete and running 16 hours after being asked. Details are as follows - the account is in the name of Geoff & Nicole McKenzie -BSB 032720 account number 201675 please direct all money to this account. Thanks must also go to Justine Pielli and the staff of the Commonwealth bank for all the info they supplied me with."

Other donations have been pouring in.

They have received everything from a stroller and cot to a doll with a hand made shawl donated by a young girl.

Local businesses have also got on board.

Woolworths donated more than $300 worth of groceries as well as a $100 gift voucher.

Bellissima donated a $200 voucher while meal vouchers have been donated from the Chelsea Coffee Lounge, the Health Food Shop and The Feed Caf & Catering at the Hains Centre. Mr McDonald also thanked Yolanda from The Feed Caf and Catering who donated furniture and St Vincent De Paul for all their help in securing a baby monitor, iron, toaster and bunk beds for the boys.

"Thanks to Cathy at C&C Self storage for her kind donation of a container indefinitely, to now store the large items donated for use in the future. Cathy has also donated a lounge.

"My gratitude goes to Jim Walker-Broose from 2XL who helped me from the beginning and sent the information over the radio to the public as has this paper (the Express)," Mr McDonald said.

"We will now be picking up and accepting donations as we have storage. We will also be taking steps to clear a building area to start building a structure before the winter sets in."

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