Newly-arrived Iraqi refugee, Maged, has had many sleepless nights worrying that when he wakes up, he’ll find his son lying on the floor, unable to move.

Today Radmila, his case-worker from the support agency MDA, has brought him a gift via GIVIT she hopes will change all that.

Maged’s story might be considered typical of many refugees fleeing the savageries of ISIS in recent years but for the fact his son has severe cerebral palsy.

“We were evacuated from Iraq due to the situation with ISIS,” Maged said. “We went to Erbil [in Iraqi Kurdistan] and stayed there for two months.

“Our situation was quite disastrous; we were living in tents and then transferred to live in schools.

“My situation is not normal since I have a disabled child.

“It was very hard for me to leave Randy in a tent or school [and] when the weather became very hot in the summer for him, I had to sell my car, which was all I had, in order to apply and get passports and travel to Jordan.”

In Jordan, Maged and his family were met by a priest who took care of them, giving them rooms in a local church.

“I made an Egyptian friend there and he, along with the church congregation, helped us a lot, especially with Randy,” said Maged.

“Then the Church found an apartment building that they rented for a year and furnished its apartments fully for the refugee families to live in.

“I worked at a restaurant there with some friends I made.”

Eventually, the Australian Embassy opened its doors for people to apply for asylum and Maged would be overcome by the kindness of Australia.

“We applied and got an appointment for an interview after one month,” said Maged. “After six or seven months we were asked to do the medical exams and got our Visas.”

“We thank God because we are happy here, especially my son, who was very tired [in Jordan].

“When I was in Iraq I used to hear how accommodating they were in Australia to people in Randy’s case but didn’t believe it.

“Now that I’m here, I can’t believe how well [his teachers and caseworkers] treat him.

“They treat him with humanity.”

Randy’s small body is contorted and it looks like he struggles to stay comfortable.

At night he tosses and turns so his father has to pack him into bed with pillows and check on him regularly.

“One time I forgot to surround him with the pillows and in the morning when I came to get him, I found him on the floor,” Maged said. “I was crushed and my heart broken and started crying.

“When he fell out of the bed he didn’t move, he remained in the same position he fell in ‘til the morning when I found him.”

The gift brought by their case-worker, Radmila, is a hospital-grade medical bed donated through GIVIT by a company called Active Medical.

For both Randy and Maged it means something special that they’ve both lacked for so very long; a good night’s sleep.

“The bed you got for Randy will help in two things,” Maged said. “He will sleep better at night and I will be more comfortable and sleep better knowing that when he moves or turns around he will not fall.

“Instead of using pillows to sit him up, the electrical bed can easily do that – the bed goes up and down and will help me with him.

“It will mainly make him sleep better [but will] let me sleep easy all through the night ‘til morning.

“He will be safe.”

You can support Australia’s new arrivals by donating items here: http://bit.ly/2nbLw34

When you’re collecting piles of items for different charities but you don’t have a warehouse, where do you put them?

How do you make sure they’re good enough quality?

This is the story of how GIVIT’s unique Virtual Warehouse was created from my kitchen table…

When I started GIVIT I remember I only had a few charities requesting items, and I would carefully put their requests on the GIVIT website. It was so exciting in the beginning!

I was so thrilled that charities were requesting items, and that people were seeing these requests and then wanting to give them exactly what they needed. I was very fulfilled as a matchmaker of THINGS!

What surprised me though, was that there were a growing number of people who really wanted to donate a large amount of items, which charities hadn’t specifically asked for.

I was a militant giver, so I only wanted people to donate the items charities actually needed – nothing more – but how could I let all these beautiful items go?

There were donors relocating homes and offering such incredible items.

As the generosity flooded in, I started manually emailing my 15 or so registered charities the list of amazing donations on offer, and they loved it. My system was easy – it was first in best dressed!

I enjoyed the process very much but sometimes if it was a large donation (for example 10 boxes of clothing or 50 pairs of joggers), a charity might need a few of these items but not all.

Often, they wanted to split the donation with another charity. I recall one large donation of toys which was split between several charities and there would have been 20 emails sorting it all out!

I started spending a lot of my time emailing charities about the donations people had generously offered, and then sorting out multiple bulk donations with them. This was very time intensive and as I became more and more absorbed… I started to neglect the house work a little.

My husband Glen was frustrated that GIVIT was no longer automated (and the growing pile of laundry). You see, I originally created GIVIT to automatically match donations to requests. We are online matchmakers!

On the website there was a page of items requested by charities. When a donor clicked on a request they could fill out their details and offer to pledge the item needed. Then, an email was automatically sent exchanging contact details between the donor and the charity. The two then agree on a delivery option between themselves. Perfect!

But now, I wanted to let charities know everything else donors were trying to give. And I was spending hours emailing them a list of items available, then more and more hours manually matching donations.

My husband is a successful real-estate agent, and loves selling warehouses, so when we sat down together and thought about how to solve this issue – we thought about creating a “virtual warehouse”.

It would be a warehouse where people can go to the GIVIT website, fill in details about the item they want to give, click ‘submit’, and then those details are available for all charities to see.You wouldn’t need to go to a physical warehouse to see what’s there, and you wouldn’t need volunteers sorting through mountains of unwanted donations.

It means charities can login through the GIVIT website and see every single donated item available in their local area – a free online shopping list! They are also sent an (automatic!) email each week telling them what items have been offered in their area.

Items are uploaded with photos too, so that charities have a chance to judge the quality of a donation before they receive it.

Now, honestly the name Virtual Warehouse still confuses people. I might change the wording one day. But name aside, our Virtual Warehouse works brilliantly – with charities logging in every single day, seeing the list of donated items available in their local area and then gratefully accepting those donations.

The GIVIT Virtual Warehouse has now won The Australian National Innovation Award… and it was all because Glen had no clean clothes to wear!

Juliette x

The Independent Distribution Committee established to distribute funds from GIVIT’s Gold Coast Appeal has made its final release of funds to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy at Dreamworld last year.

In total $590,041.94 has been received by the Appeal with the final release by the Independent Distribution Committee on behalf of the appeal made last week.

Committee chairwoman Catherine O’Sullivan said the funds have been released on the best available advice from frontline service providers to ensure the needs of those directly impacted by the tragedy have been met.

“We’ve been told repeatedly by donors to the appeal that they wanted to make sure the families who lost loved ones, particularly those with children left behind, should be the absolute priority when it came to distributing these funds,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“That’s what we’ve done,” she said, “We’ve made sure every cent has gone to these families on behalf of those who donated in the hope that we can at least make sure their immediate and emergent needs have been taken care of.”

CEO and Founder of GIVIT, Juliette Wright, praised the speed and integrity of the independent committee.

“This locally-led committee has acted quickly to ensure the needs of the families have been met, including in the run up to Christmas, which is an incredibly difficult time after an incident such as this,” said Mrs Wright.

“The outpouring of generosity from the Australian public and from the business community of the Gold Coast in particular to this appeal has been absolutely heart-warming and shows what a trusted donation platform GIVIT is after disasters and emergencies.”

“I want to thank everyone on the committee, as well as everyone who donated funds to this appeal, for showing once again how Australians come together to help one-another after tragedy strikes.”

The GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal has now closed with all funds received distributed.

Background

GIVIT was approached by the City of Gold Coast to be the platform for the appeal after an interagency meeting including Queensland Health and Red Cross.
Five people make up the Independent Distribution Committee:
• Catherine O’Sullivan, Pro Vice Chancellor at Bond University
• Brooke Denholder, Community Services at the City of Gold Coast
• Leisa Bourne, Director of Australian Red Cross in Queensland
• Rob Borbidge, Former Queensland Premier
• Greg Goebel, Chairman of the Board at GIVIT

Catherine O’Sullivan is the chair and sole spokesperson on behalf of the Independent Distribution Committee. The Committee has distributed 100% of the funds received by the GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy at Dreamworld. The $590,041.94 received by the GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal and distributed by the Independent Distribution Committee includes donations via Red Cross of $167,500 from Ardent Leisure’s CEO and of $157,225 from Dreamworld’s reopening weekend. GIVIT has not charged any administration fee or other costs relating to funds received through its Gold Coast Appeal.

As a mum of two I have been busy preparing two kids for school, but I can only imagine how well teachers must prepare to start a new school year… especially as they prepare for 30 kids… and for life ahead!

One school in Cherbourg Queensland, go above and beyond and also teach their kids to cook. They are setting up a kitchen in the school to engage the students in food preparation and life skills. But unfortunately over summer, there was a fire in the classrooms and many items destroyed.

It moves me to swift action when I hear about a school affected by a fire, particularly when they are trying to get everything together for a smooth start to the year. The state school’s classroom was destroyed and claimed all the items the classroom teacher had for their students. They lost back to school supplies such as; school hats, whiteboard markers , school shoes, storage containers and more. Go to the website for the complete list – the items are IN RED! I have never seen red on the GIVIT website before… we really need your support!

If you have anything for their kitchen it would be incredible too, they need a toaster, kettle, cutlery, mixing bowls, shredder, a sandwich pressall the cooking items you can think of.

Find the full list on the website or donate cash and we’ll buy it as locally as possible – 100% of money received will be spent on the donation.

Thank you!
Jx

The GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal’s Independent Distribution Committee has released a second round of funds in time for Christmas.

The appeal has raised more than $400,000 with Dreamworld pledging a further $157,225 from the proceeds of its “Open Doors, Open Hearts” weekend to Red Cross, which will also be distributed by the independent committee.

The committee will once again prioritise the needs of the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy at Dreamworld.

Chair of the GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal’s Independent Distribution Committee, Catherine O’Sullivan, said this Christmas would be especially tough on those families.

“Everyone on the committee feels nothing but sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives in the incident at Dreamworld in October,” said Ms O’Sullivan. “The committee acted quickly to release a portion of the funds to meet their immediate and emergent needs in the weeks following the tragedy.

“We know that those needs will continue and that Christmas will be a particularly difficult time of year for those who have lost loved ones.

“This second release will mean that nearly all of the funds received to date have been distributed with more funds on the way from the reopening weekend.”

CEO and Founder of GIVIT, Juliette Wright, said there is still time for people to make a donation before the appeal draws to a close.

“I want to thank everyone who got behind this appeal and in particular the business community on the Gold Coast,” Mrs Wright said. “Our hearts go out to the families of those who lost their lives at Dreamworld.”

“To have raised so much money in such a short space of time and with more funds on the way as a result of Dreamworld’s reopening weekend is extraordinary.

“100% of the funds received by this appeal will be directed to those who need it most via the Independent Distribution Committee established last month.

“If anyone else would like to donate please go to givit.org.au or walk into any Westpac branch and ask to donate to “GIVIT’s Gold Coast Appeal.”

The GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal is expected to close on December 21 2016 with a final distribution of funds in January 2017.

For further enquiries contact GIVIT’s Media Advisor, Ash Moore on ash@givit.org.au.

At GIVIT we are really driven and motivated by each time a donation is connected – that moment when we match someone’s generosity with genuine need. In January we decided to harness this motivation and create a target… something to aim towards.

We thought it should be a big hairy audacious goal of matching 1,000,000 donations, and supporting (for free) 3000 charities by 2018.

We have had so many donations go through GIVIT’s website, but we also do so, so, so much behind the scenes to manage large corporate donations. For instance, 30 pallets of items were donated by Target this year and we’ve matched every single one.

Wonderfully, we have now facilitated 333,333 donations and have just hit the third way mark in our goal. We are one-third of the way to 1 million donations, and one-third of the way to our goal of changing 1 million lives of vulnerable, marginalised and impoverished Australians!

We also currently support 1280 charities!

To be a third of the way towards our goal is so wonderful. I believe Australians are most generous people in the world. Thank you to everyone who has ever given through GIVIT.

Also, I think as a team this is such a great accomplishment. Every person who volunteers and works at GIVIT is just so focused on achieving our goal – and we are ON OUR WAY!!!!!!! What a rewarding way to end another great year!!!!!

Juliette x

333333-donations

GIVIT is helping the communities of Yarloop and Cookernup with a special Christmas celebration this year and is calling for help from the Western Australian community.

GIVIT, a website which connects charities and service providers with donations from the general public, is currently seeking donations of Christmas decorations for a special celebration in Yarloop

The party, taking place next month – almost a year on from fires which devastated the South-West community – is planned to be a happy occasion and an opportunity to thank all the volunteers who have assisted the town since the January fires.

Julie-Ann McMiles, Manager of the Yarloop Community Resource Centre said the fire destroyed all of their festive decorations.

“Unfortunately last January the fire that destroyed our town, also destroyed all our celebratory decorations held in the community resource centre. We want to make this event extra special by decorating the Cookernup Hall, the venue for the celebrations,” she said.

Ms McMiles said each year the Community Resource Centre hosts a special thank a volunteer Christmas Party, but this year they are not only starting from scratch but are also hosting a bigger event to acknowledge the enormous volunteer efforts over the last 11 months.

“We would normally hold it in Yarloop at the Railway Workshops, but we obviously lost those in the fires. We also lost our own building, the resource centre, which housed all of our decorations.

“We are expecting bigger numbers this year as we have invited not only the volunteers from the larger organisations, like our local firies, but also everyone who helped after the fires – from those who cooked food to people who carted water,” she said.

GIVIT has launched in WA this year and the organisation’s State Manager Anna Presser hopes to see it get off to a flying start helping in Yarloop.

“It’s such a simple concept – almost like a free Gumtree. Charities can simply login to GIVIT’s website, make a request for practical essential items they need and then we call for members of the public to log on and see what they can provide.

“Likewise, members of the public who have good quality unwanted items that they wish to donate to charity can upload them online in our ‘virtual warehouse’ for charities to browse and pick up for their clients in need.”

Ms Presser said GIVIT is very much aimed at being the “charity for charities” and that GIVIT could be likened to a “free, charitable Gumtree.”

“So many people want to be able to give to those in need, or have great quality items at home they no longer require but want to see go to a good home.

“GIVIT bridges that gap between charities and people who wish to give and helps make it really easy for both parties,” she said.

Ms McMiles said their special Christmas Celebrations were being hosted on Thursday December 8, and they were seeking donations of purple and silver Christmas decorations to help make it something very special for the community and tireless volunteers.

“We have had a really tough year and Christmas is about bringing a bit of joy which is what we hope to do with this event,” she said.

More than 80 volunteers are expected to attend the Christmas Celebration. Donations to the centre can be made by logging into givit.org.au, clicking on ‘Donate Items’ then searching for ‘Yarloop’.

For more information or interviews please contact Lorelei Campbell on lorelei@givit.org.au.

yarloopcrc

It’s unbelievable how vulnerable children are in Australia. One in six children living in poverty has always been a shameful statistic, but also is the number of kids in care.

We know that 8,000 children in Queensland live in care. Those carers providing a temporary and loving family to our most vulnerable children do such a wonderful job and give the children gifts, but, we can all do more to support them this Christmas.

The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disabilities has asked us to source 8,000 gifts to give to those Kids in Care who are in need. I was overwhelmed by the number, and I still am. I’m mostly sad about the number of babies, and equally sad that it is hard to find toys for the teens. We need to support these children by adding an extra something special for them under the tree.

Can you imagine you or your children living in another person’s home this season? Some kids are happy, but some are desperately missing their own families. We know, we truly know because charities tell us so, that donations of gifts and toys make a massive difference to each and every child. These simple gifts make the children feel loved, special and cared for. Receiving presents at Christmas could be the most wonderful experience for these children.

Our Kids in Care gift drive offers a wonderful opportunity to connect to these vulnerable kids and help brighten their day. We need 8,000 gifts for our children in care, in regions right across the state. If you’d like to donate, you can give items via the GIVIT Kids website, or donate money to buy items locally.

Thank you,
Juliette

juliette-with-sara-and-hudson

Queenslanders are being encouraged to brighten the festive season for children living in out-of-home care by donating a present to the Kids in Care Christmas gift drive.

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman kicked off the drive on November 14, which aims to see a present donated for every child and young person in care, from newborns to children aged 17.

“We are asking Queenslanders to show their support for kids in care and purchase an extra gift when they are out Christmas shopping,” she said.

“We all know it takes a village to raise a child, and this is absolutely the case for children who are unable to live with their families.

“The Kids in Care Christmas gift drive is the perfect way for Queenslanders to play their part in supporting our kids, by donating a gift for a child or young people who is unable to live with their own family this Christmas.

“These gifts from the community are a way for everyone to support our kids in care, as well as their carers who do a wonderful job all year round.”

Ms Fentiman called on schools and the business community to get involved and throw their support behind the gift drive.

“It would be wonderful to see schools and businesses across Queensland get behind our kids in care by encouraging donations and collecting gifts,” she said.

“With more than 8000 children in care we need plenty of gifts that will go right around the state to reach children.

“I urge all Queenslanders to get into the Christmas spirit, show your support and give generously to this drive.”

The gift drive is being coordinated by the Palaszczuk Government in partnership with GIVIT.

Road Boss Rally Cars will also work with GIVIT to collect and deliver gifts to various locations across Queensland.

GIVIT CEO Juliette Wright said gifts should be suited to a broad range of children and teenagers in care.

“We are honoured to be working in partnership with the Queensland Government to help source gifts for our children in care this Christmas,” Ms Wright said.

“GIVIT is a national not-for-profit connecting those who have with those in need.

“Through our website essential items are donated every day by generous Queenslanders wanting to help others in need.

“This Christmas you can help bring a smile to a child in care, all you need to do is give a gift via our website or donate funds towards purchasing them.”

Suitable presents are items to the value of about $20, like toys, gift cards, sporting equipment, board games, clothes and books.

For more information, including donation points and gift ideas visit GIVIT’s website.

The independent committee managing the distribution of funds raised by GIVIT’s Gold Coast Appeal has met and decided to release money immediately.

The first payment made through the GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal Independent Distribution Committee is aimed to provide relief to the immediate and emergent needs of the families of those who lost their lives at Dreamworld.

Committee chair, Catherine O’Sullivan, said the generosity of Australians in both the public and private sectors has been astounding.

“The appeal has already received in excess of $200,000 and more has been pledged,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“We know that after heartbreaking incidents like the one that happened at Dreamworld, there is an outpouring of generosity from those who want to give.

“I can confirm that the intent of this committee is to distribute 100% of the money received by the GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal to the families of those directly impacted by the Dreamworld tragedy.

“It’s vitally important that people who donate know that this committee is independent and is acting quickly to make sure funds are available to meet any immediate and emergent needs that these families may have.”

Those who wish to donate are urged to go to givit.org.au or head into any Westpac branch and say they want to give to “GIVIT’s Gold Coast Appeal”.

Background
GIVIT was approached by the City of Gold Coast to be the platform for the appeal, after an interagency meeting including Queensland Health and Red Cross determined a need for a public appeal.

Five people make up the Independent Distribution Committee:

– Catherine O’Sullivan, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Pathways and partnerships, Bond University
– Brooke Denholder, City of Gold Coast
– Leisa Bourne, Director, Red Cross, Queensland
– Rob Borbidge, Former Queensland Premier
– Greg Goebel, Chairman of the Board at GIVIT

Catherine O’Sullivan is the committee chair and sole spokesperson on behalf of the committee.

The Independent Distribution Committee will distribute 100% of the funds received by the GIVIT Gold Coast Appeal to those directly impacted by the tragedy at Dreamworld.

GIVIT will not charge any administration fee or other costs relating to funds received through its Gold Coast Appeal.
Red Cross is not running an appeal or collecting other funds for the tragic incident.

Dreamworld has announced it will be donating proceeds from its proposed public Memorial Day to Australian Red Cross. Ardent’s CEO will also be donating $167,500. Red Cross has confirmed 100% of these funds will be used to provide assistance to people affected.

The funds donated to Red Cross by Dreamworld / Ardent and those raised through the GIVIT Appeal will all be distributed through the Independent Distribution Committee.

For further enquiries contact GIVIT’s Media Advisor, Ash Moore on ash@givit.org.au