Eileen’s Wish continues on

Volunteers preparing hampers as part of "Eileen's Wish" in the lead-up to Christmas 2022. Photo: Contributed

OVER the past 10 years, a small group of Heyfield residents has distributed Christmas presents and food hampers to children and families in need.

It all began at a Rodaughan/Breed/Stubbe family gathering one Christmas Eve when the matriarch of the family, Eileen, said there were two young children who would not be getting anything for Christmas.

Their parents had no money, a local charity had nothing left to give them and Eileen wished something could be done to help.

Upset at the thought that the children wouldn’t receive gifts, her daughters quickly collected toys and chocolates and drove up and down the street looking for a blue house.

The parents were overwhelmed with the gifts, and one can only imagine the look on the children’s faces in the morning.

More families were identified each year by St Vincent de Paul’s and local schools, and the Rodaughan/Breed/Stubbe family gave money to buy presents until the Rodaughan families could no longer provide for all of them.

Heyfield IGA was then approached and agreed to have a Giving Tree, and arranged with Mars to donate chocolate stockings.

Josie Stubbe took a hat around at the Heyfield Bowling Club Crackerjack nights to raise funds, while other kind locals donated directly to the cause.

In 2017, the Rodaughan family – with the help of Maud Beha, Sue and Bert Middelhuis, Karen and Peter Leslie, and the generosity of the community – supported 38 families with toys and food through the Giving Tree.

Sadly, the number of children in need is increasing and charity groups are stretched to the limits. The Rodaughans started the ball rolling and the Heyfield Community banded together to look after their own, their efforts applauded, encouraged and most appreciated.

Today, the family’s charitable endeavour is known as the Heyfield Community Children’s Charity Fund or by its colloquial name: Eileen’s Wish.

In 2022, the fund was able to support 16 local families through the “extremely generous” donations of local businesses and community groups.

Up until the pandemic, fundraising events were held at the Heyfield Bowls Club to collect money for the purchase of Christmas presents, as well as food hampers for families in-need.

After a previous successful Bowlathon event, a six-hour fundraiser called the “Eileen’s Wish Bowlathon” is again planned.

The fundraiser promises to be a fun day and will feature recorded and live music from Justin Rebecchi, spot prizes, raffles, food, drinks and novelty events.

Money raised will not only help with gifts and food hampers, but hopefully fund children’s participation in community programs.

The Bowlathon will be held at Heyfield Bowls Club on March 5, 2023.