Extreme flooding may have destroyed the Lifeline furniture store in Lismore, but it didn’t destroy store manager Ethan Smith’s spirit to support his community.
CAPTION: Private Darren Loveday assists volunteers sort essential supplies donated for flood-affected community members at the Lifeline distribution centre in Lismore. Photo by Leading Seaman Kylie Jagiello.
After relocating the distribution centre and furniture shop to the Lismore racecourse, Lifeline has been directing its efforts to the Northern Rivers Flood Relief, collecting donations for the flood-affected community.
“We have locals, as well as people from all over the country, coming in with utes full of furniture and donations, sometimes early in the morning,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s been overwhelming, the amount of people wanting to help and contribute; even those who have lost everything.
“I’ve found they are the ones who have stepped up the most, because they have been through it personally.”
Members of Adelaide-based 10/27 Royal South Australian Regimen have been assisting Lifeline with the unloading, sorting, packing and distribution of donated goods.
In their first day working at the distribution centre, the team helped unload more than 20 vehicles full of donations.
Working on the impromptu shop floor of the centre, Trooper Antonia Loizos said helping locals affected by the devastation put things into perspective.
“Your problems are likely small compared to people here, who have lost everything,” Trooper Loizos said.
“Not just losing all their belongings, or their houses, but some of them have potentially lost loved ones.
“Helping only a little, you feel you are making a really big difference and it’s rewarding.”
Trooper Loizos has lost count of how many people have told her they appreciated the work of the Army.
“We’ve come together as a team and shown strength in numbers,” Trooper Loizos said.
“I’ve had chats with people from all walks of life and am grateful to be a part of this operation and to give my support.”
Mr Smith said Lifeline and the local community appreciated the support received by all volunteers.
“More help and donations are always welcome, so we can gradually rebuild the community, one step at a time,” he said.
“As long as people need us, we’ll be here.”
Australia’s leading suicide prevention service, Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing personal crisis with 24-hour support.