Locals spring into action to collect donations for farmers in fire-affected east Gippsland

Hay is loaded at Fulham, ready to go to fire-affected areas.
Hay is loaded at Fulham, ready to go to fire-affected areas.

THE power of word of mouth and social media has led to the establishment of a makeshift truck depot at a Fulham property to carry out deliveries to fire-ravaged east Gippsland.

After the Facebook page 'Gippsland Horse and Stock Safe - Bushfire Assistance' was created, a strong online presence has resulted in it becoming inundated with messages from people across the state wishing to help.

Locals Tegan Hector and Kelly Van Den Berg have been leading the operation, along with Tarrah Stacey and her father Phill Stacey, with Ms Hector's living room transformed into an office where all the logistics are taking place.

Donations of hay, water, non-perishable foods and other essentials have made their way to Fulham, where they have been loaded onto trucks headed east.

As well as donations, people have also offered to house stock in paddocks well out of fire zones.

Trucking companies have donated their time, drivers, fuel and trucks, while care packages with thousands of dollars of stock feed, licks, supplements and pellets have been going out free to fire-affected farmers for their stock.

Donated veterinary supplies have also been going to groups such as Gippsland Equine Group and Vets Without Borders, destined for Mallacoota and local wildlife sanctuaries.

The effort has meant thousands of kilometres of driving, with a crew of volunteers on the road and at the depot, based at Eulinga Park Equine, working around the clock.

Drivers have used their spare time to deliver goods, while others have put their own careers on hold for the time being to help out.

The dedicated helpers were unknown to each other before the fire crisis, but have come together for a common cause, and formed strong bonds.

They have brought a range skills to the operation including loading, coordinating incoming and outgoing goods and arranging a temporary traffic management point access.

The influx of goods has necessitated improvised storage facilities at the Fulham property, including horse floats being used to house hay bales.

Some incredible stories of survival, gratefulness and generosity have been relayed back to the depot after supplies have been dropped off.

One amazing story was told of a group of horses that protected a mare and foal by putting them in the middle.

Those wishing to drop off stock feed can do so at 387 Sale-Heyfield Rd, Fulham.

Gippsland Horse and Stock Safe - Bushfire Assistance has advised the best way to help at this point in time is in providing fuel vouchers. For more information or to get involved, visit the Facebook page or phone Tegan Hector on 0429 808 269.

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