COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Marcel Janssen with the aid
of dozens of volunteers, unloading truckloads of donations.
WHEN two Goodna friends decided to host a simple barbecue for flood victims last week they had no idea they were launching a massive relief operation that would touch the hearts of a community.
Like millions of Australians, Nicole Pacheco, 29, and Marcel Janssen, 27, were moved by the plight of those people who lost their homes to the floodwaters, and awed by the response of the volunteers who wanted to help them recover.
So they picked one of the areas worst hit – Goodna, where more than 600 homes were inundated – and made plans to fire up their barbecue for a Saturday morning treat for the people involved.
At the same time, they decided to use Facebook to launch an appeal for donations of urgently needed goods and supplies for the victims.
They had no idea what they'd started.
"It began with Nicole deciding we should grab some items to donate to the people who lost everything in the flood," Ms Janssen said.
"From there we thought it would be a good idea to cook a barbecue as well."
Under the headline, 'Emergency drop-off at Goodna', the women encouraged Facebook friends to donate clothes, food and toiletries and leave them at Diggers Rest war memorial from Saturday, January 15.
At 6am that morning, Ms Pacheco and Ms Janssen arrived with a barbecue, some food and two trailers packed with donations they had collected the night before.
Within 45 minutes, they had acquired four more barbecues. And, with dozens of volunteers enthusiastic to help, they had filled an entire church hall with donations from the community.
"The response was amazing," Ms Janssen said.
"Due to the huge amount of donations flooding in, we actually had to relocate the drop-off area to a location that could handle it all."
Rona Sandilands, of the Uniting Church of Goodna, and Manos Saridakis, of Goodna Max Employment, himself a flood victim, heard what the women were doing and offered their buildings to store the mountains of donations being unloaded from delivery trucks.