By Bev Jordan
Collectors will be out and about on the last weekend in May collecting for the Red Shield Appeal for the Salvation Army.
Every 17 seconds, The Salvation Army in Australia helps someone, funds from the annual Red Shield Appeal help support a range of services.
At the Rouse Hill Salvation Army’s Norwest Region centre in Nelson up to 200 people attend the Hope Community Market which operates every Friday from 8am to 11am. The market is manned by volunteers at an old house at 4 Edwards Road, Nelson and offers fresh food and vegetables, milk, bread and basic household items.
Major Bill Geracia (pictured on the front cover with volunteers Casey and Chloe from Riverstone) says it is a place of hope and safety.
“It’s run totally by volunteers. It started when three people wanted to provide bread and it has grown into this massive market in the past 18 months. In the next 5 years we are expecting the numbers will grow. “Nothing gets wasted. Anything left over goes to local farmers here and Windsor,” said Bill.
Margaret, who was picking up fresh fruit and veggies and basic supplies said: “(Hope market) is very important. My son and daughter lost their house and moved in with me to live with their two children. I lived on my own for 30 years and things are tough. We really need this.”
Sarah, a single mum of four from Box Hill was picking up cleaning products as well as food. “It’s very important I have rent and bills and things are expensive. This is a Godsend for all the things I can’t afford to buy.”
Gabby and Stephen Crain from Riverstone have volunteered at Hope Market for 18 months. “I wanted to help other people. And fellowship is really important,” said Stephen.
George Irvine from Kellyville, a builder by trade, volunteered for Hope Market after looking for something to do in retirement. His wife Pam joined him after retiring as a nurse in aged care. “We are always wanting to help people,” said George.
Hills Shire Mayor Peter Gangemi said it was a wonderful service. “No one should have to worry about when and where their next meal will come from.”
However, the last few years have been tough and because of the pandemic and multiple natural disaster events [fires and floods], we are seeing more people reaching out for help. “I commend the Salvos and its amazing team of volunteers on this wonderful initiative that supports so many in our community needing that extra bit of support.”
Anyone wanting to donate food items can drop them off at the Salvation Army centre, 4 Edwards Rd, Nelson on Thursdays.
A similar community market at Windsor is helping up to 60 families.
There are also free Hope Family Night dinners on Thursdays 6pm to 8pm at 290 George St, Windsor.
To find out how to volunteer at the Red Shield Appeal on May 28/29 or to donate visit www. salvationarmy.org.au