Community Cooperation Key to the Success of the Vinnies Illawarra Van Service

The Illawarra Van has school students, community volunteers and local businesses to thank for helping it reach out to vulnerable people in the Illawarra.        

The Illawarra Vinnies Van operates 4 days a week providing emergency food relief, referrals, companionship, and hope to those experiencing homelessness and social isolation in the Illawarra, Shellharbour, and Shoalhaven regions.

It’s a big undertaking that requires hours’ worth of volunteer time to make it work. But the service is flourishing thanks to the commitment of local school and community groups, as well as local businesses.

Oz Harvest and Second Bite have been long-time supporters, providing food rescued from growers, manufacturers, and retailers. More recently, Domino’s Pizza Illawarra have come on board, donating pizzas to the Van Service. This has proven to be very popular with the people the van assists.

Perhaps the most important relationship has been with local Catholic Schools. Van service staff work closely with the Illawarra Youth and Schools Coordinator, fostering close relationships with schools and showcasing the service to our youngest Vincentians – our Mini Vinnies groups.  

Van Coordinator, Kelly McCrohon says, “we have great teacher support from schools, and not only do we have volunteer teams drawn from these schools, but the Vinnies Van also receives donations from them.”

Older students from St Mary’s, Holy Spirit, Good Samaritan, St Michael’s, St Brigid’s, Corpus Christi, Stella Maris and St Anthony’s Picton have also been fantastic, pitching in to put together snack packs, make sandwiches and deliver donations.

Over the next year, Kelly hopes to strengthen the relationship between the Vinnies Illawarra Van Service and the communities in which it operates, by increasing the number of visits to Mini Vinnies groups, promoting van activities at the Coniston Hub, attending NAIDOC Events in July, and having a presence at the Saltwater Festival in Warrawong.

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