• Tony Bosworth

Hawkesbury charity slugged over $2000 in Council tip fees after feeding 1000s over festive period

Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands is our region’s main food charity and the only one not to close over the Christmas period when they provided food and meals to thousands of people in need.

In one three–day period over Christmas, some 1350 people came through the organisation’s doors in South Windsor, which HHH founder Linda Strickland says means around 5000 people once you take their families into account.

The organisation is run by volunteers and donations and alongside handing out food hampers and cooking meals for those struggling, the charity also helps point people to accommodation and other services.

But despite all their good work for the community and many hours of back-breaking and stressful hours over the busy Christmas and New Year period, they have been charged $2236 in dump fees by Hawkesbury Council, which they have had to take out of donations received.

“We actually at one point thought about asking another Council to help us - as they were referring their residents to us, seeing as most charities were closed,” said Ms Strickland.

“Every cent counts and costs like these just take the food out of hungry people's mouths...”

...says Charmaine McCabbin, an HHH volunteer.

"Very rarely have we approached Council for help, this time we could have done with the waiving of the tip fees, ”said another HHH volunteer, Marie McNeil.

“For all the work our team of exhausted volunteers do for Hawkesbury residents and those in most need, a little help from the elected officials would be appreciated," added Ms McNeil.

"For a small local charity that services and provides essential support to the residents in times of need, and especially when called on to assist throughout natural disasters and pandemics, to be forced to again dig deep into their own pockets with no aid from the local council is disgraceful,” said volunteer Erin Wilkins.

“It makes you rethink who truly supports your charity and where your services are appreciated on a local government platform,” she added.

Other councils often offer their local charities discounts when they need to dump waste but Ms Strickland says they have asked Hawkesbury Council and they cannot get any discount.

The tip fee structure sees Hawkesbury Council being charged by the State and then levying fees, but councillor Nathan Zamprogno has written to the Council’s General Manager, Elizabeth Richardson, asking for a report to councillors about possible avenues to help lessen or get rid of charges for HHH, and potentially other charities too.

“At a time where the community is strained and we are more reliant than ever on the amazing work of volunteer organisations like HHH, we should pursue whether there are avenues for relief,” said Cllr Zamprogno in his letter to the GM.

“Past form certainly indicates that HHH would redirect those savings into their community work,” he said.

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