For the past 20 years, Graeme Packer has been coordinating the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal in the Kiama zone, organising the legions of door knock volunteers with military precision.
The six month lead-up to the Appeal is usually a busy time for him, as he gathers volunteers from local service clubs, plans the areas they will cover and delivers the collection boxes and information.
This year none of that is necessary as the Appeal is going digital, and with his usual enthusiasm Graeme is embracing the idea.
Not a regular to donating online, the first thing he did was log into the system to prove to himself just how easy it is to use.
“I wanted to give myself a user experience, so I can help anyone if they have any queries,” he says.
“I’m not what you’d call tech savvy, but I felt it was my obligation to improve my skills so we can raise the $25,000 we usually do this year.
“We anticipate seeing some of the greatest need that we’ve ever seen in our 140 year history serving Australians.
“The Covid-19 crisis has financially crippled many Australians and it will take months to see the real impact it will have.
“We know when the chips are down, Aussies come together and do what they can to give hope, this is no more important than now.”
While the Salvation Army raised $40 million particularly to assist bush fire victims, as usual the Red Shield Appeal is to keep the Salvation Army’s vital services going.
The Salvation Army’s most recent annual report noted its social services provided more than one million sessions of care to Australians in need; helped 46,000 people experiencing homelessness, provided financial counseling to more than 65,000; and offered care to 13,000 people who were coping with family violence.
Graeme, who in 2019 was named Kiama’s Citizen of the Year for his service to the community, usually relies on members of Kiama Lions, Minnamurra Lions and Kiama Seaside Probus to help knock on 5,600 doors.
“We can’t ask them to do that this year, so instead they are helping by getting the word out to all their contacts to encourage them to donate online,” says Graeme.
People have the option of donating to the Kiama appeal individually, or to sign up and volunteer to knock on digital doors through their own individual, workplace or group page (connected to the Kiama total).
Details: You can donate now, until the end of June, with the official launch on the weekend of 23-24 May, at www.digitaldoorknock.salvationarmy.org.au/t/kiama-salvos