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The value of kindness

Primary school students in the small community of Quandialla in NSW’s Central West will be receiving a boost to their Christmas stockings this year, thanks to the extraordinary thoughtfulness of a group of HSU members in Patient Transport.

Much of NSW is suffering from one of the worst droughts on record, and Quandialla is no exception. The lack of rainfall has been immensely hard on the residents of the little town. And in a disastrous turn of events, last year the school lost one of its main classrooms to a fire.

Members at Prestons Patient Transport Station were very keen to help out drought-affected communities in any way that they could.

“We just wanted to do something for the farmers in the drought,” says member Janine Dunlop, who helped to organise the initiative. “Christmas is a stressful enough time as it is.”

But the question was how best to help out. It was important to make sure that any contribution made by the station was practical and not to the possible detriment of local business. Janine and her colleague Lyndal Rapattoni undertook some research and hit upon Quandialla Public School. A phone call to the principal set wheels in motion.
The entire station has embraced this wonderful idea, with members ensuring that none of the children in the community go without.

“Sometimes it can be difficult to ask people to put their hand in their pocket for charity,” says Janine. “But if you ask them to buy a present for a child, it’s a different story.”

“They aren’t just little presents, either,” adds fellow member Dana Buttigieg. “Some of the kids will be getting pushbikes, some of them will be getting trampolines, some of them will be getting guitars.

“A couple that is expecting twins will be getting a whole package of baby products and clothes to help out with the newborns.”
But these HSU members don’t expect glory. They will be presenting the presents to the school a few days before Christmas and parents will collect them.

“If they want to say they’re from them, or from Santa, it’s all good,” says Janine. “The important part is just to reduce the burden at a stressful time.”