More than 2000 people have been helped by Florence Lee-Gunawan and her family since they opened their Love For Australia free grocery store in January this year.
Florence and her parents Esther and James started the Love for Australia charity 10 years ago with free family festivals in Western Sydney.
During the COVID lockdowns and restrictions they started delivering free food hampers and when most restrictions were over they decided to open a free grocery store for people doing it tough.
“It’s more than just giving food. We want people to know there is support and we are here to support them,” says Florence.
The mother of three (Courtney, 12, Sharon, 8, and three-year-old Caleb) says running and stocking the store is something they do as a family. Her daughters do distance education so they can be involved in the work of the store as well. She says the desire to help others comes from her maternal grandmother in Indonesia who taught them all “you live a life where you care for each other”.
Florence’s parents, Esther and James, migrated to Australia over 40 years ago and taught their only child about the importance of service to others.
“It’s a joy when you see people come here,” says Florence. “It’s more than the items we are giving them. We want them to enter the store and feel loved.
“Our vision is to see every Australian, especially those going through hardship and tough times, feel loved and cared for. As a family we know what it is to struggle. When I was 13 my dad had a heart attack.
He was a taxi driver and had to have open heart surgery. Each day (my mum and I) would visit my father in hospital. Every night we would get home and there would be food on the doorstep. Not everyone has that support and people to rally around them in time of need. We want to be that support.”
She says for a lot of people they see, going to a free grocery store is not something they thought they would ever do.
She said one family ran their own successful business and some savings but lost the business and their income when the husband was involved in a road accident and shattered his hip.
His wife was heavily pregnant with their child and couldn’t take over the business, they faced mounting medical bills and had no way of making the business work. The only way they could save money on groceries was by coming to the Love for Australia store at Seven Hills
Florence studied economics at university and runs a music school but says the family charity is her passion. “It’s a joy to see the people that come here and that we can help share the love. I love that we can do this as a family.”
Shoppers have to book to visit the store visit the website and book a time at www. loveforaustralia.com.au or call 1300 83LOVE (1300 83 56 83 or email [email protected] for more information. Donations are welcomed.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]