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Relief program faces hard times

Cakes

Piece of cake: Emily Messieh and Steve White say donating is easy. Photo: HEATHER SMITH

THE 20-year Emergency Relief Program run out of the Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre is itself in need of relief with donations and funding drying up.

Centre coordinator Emily Messieh said the program – which provides food, financial assistance and care packages – used to operate twice a week.

It now operates on Fridays from 9.30am to 1pm and Ms Messieh estimates about 20 people a week use the service.

“We have clients from 15 years old to 80 but it’s usually mums with kids,” she said.

To qualify for assistance, clients must be on Centrelink support. The program does not give out money but vouchers to help with bills and to present at supermarkets, such as Franklins.

“Clients can only use the service once every three months – we’d love to help every day but don’t have the money,” Ms Messieh said. "But we never send them away with nothing."

The program is in urgent need of monetary support and donations and is calling on cafes and restaurants in the northern suburbs to consider donating their leftovers.

Steve White of Flemings Cakes in Thirroul does just that and contributes almost a full crate of fresh cupcakes, lamingtons and bread to the program each week.

“It’s a way of helping out,” he said. “Whatever we have left, we send over.”

Ms Messieh said she understood businesses were doing it tough in the current economic climate but every little bit helped. "Even a gift voucher for a service, like a haircut, would help," she said.

 For more information and to donate, contact Ms Messiah on 4267 2500 or email emily@thirroulnc.org

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