Fundraiser helps feed the homeless

KRISTINA TRAJKOVSKI

Walk With Us is holding the second annual Slices and Schooners charity fundraiser tomorrow to help support and feed homeless people living on the Gold Coast.

Walk With Us Christmas lunch

Gold Coast charity Walk With Us started out by organising a Christmas lunch to feed local homeless people. Photo: Courtesy Walk With Us

 

The fundraiser is the charity’s main fundraising event of the year and raises vital funds for homeless people in the community.

The event, which will be held on Thursday August 29 from 5.30 pm to 9 pm at the Balter Brewery in Currumbin and will treat guests to a drink upon arrival, a three-course meal and live music.

Slices and Schooners is hosted by Chelsea Downey, whose family started Walk With Us in 2015.

The event will raise much-needed funds through donations and auctions on the night, which will go directly to feeding and supporting the Gold Coast’s homeless community.

Ms Downey said there were some interesting items up for auction at the Slices and Schooners fundraising event.

“We have auctions of donated articles like framed surf photography by Ted Grambeau, and signed surfboards by Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning,” she said.

“Balter Brewing, where the event is held, also donates cartons of beers and other products.”

“Our fundraisers like the Balter night of Slices and Schooners, [the] BBQ at Bunnings and other donations from family friends and small businesses all help us to keep going,” she said.

Robyn Luke Walk With Us

Robyn Luke helped start Walk With Us in 2015 and helps organise fundraising events for the charity each year. Photo: Courtesy Walk With Us

 

Walk With Us team member Robyn Luke, who is also Chelsea Downey’s mother, said the charity was founded by three people who had experienced homelessness or mental-health issues andwanted to give back to the community.

“Nikki Luke (my daughter), Jade Kilshaw and Matthew Mason all had issues with depression and/or homelessness themselves, so they knew all about life lessons,” she said.

Ms Luke said the charity had originally aimed simply to provide Christmas lunch for homeless members of the community.

“Our initial goal was to provide a Christmas luncheon on Christmas Eve for approximately 200 homeless [and] disadvantaged people with mental health issues,” she said.

“This has been a huge success and our number last year was 255.”

Ms Luke said guests to the Christmas lunch were given a meal, gifts, clothing, toiletries and money to help them after the event ended.

“We provide our guests with a three-course lunch, entertainment, Christmas carols, a hairdresser for a spruce up, [and] both new and second-hand clothes for free,” she said.

“We have a craft area for the kids, each person gets a present, adults [get] a back pack full of toiletries, the kids get several presents and everyone gets a ‘funny money’ cheque for $50, which they take to the Santa shop [set up by Walk With Us] to spend on any article,” Ms Luke said.

“All articles have been donated and are priced at $5, which some buy for themselves whilst others do their Christmas shopping there,” she said.

“Our friends go home with a full belly, usually with a doggy bag too, a bag full of goodies and, most importantly, with a huge smile on their face.”

Chelsea Downey and Nikki Luke

Chelsea Downey (right), with the support of her sister Nikki Luke (left), is the main organiser of Slices and Schooners 2019. Photo: Courtesy Walk With Us

 

Ms Luke said two years ago Walk With Us started a regular Monday night dinner at Burleigh Heads, which was organised by Nikki Luke and her husband Savili, to continue helping the homeless.

“This is a regular night with numbers starting at two when they began in the park,” she said.

“We now have our dinner in Fradgley Hall and we have up to 60 attending each week.”

“They are given a two-course meal and each week we offer either clothes, toiletries or groceries that have been donated by different friends and groups helping us out.”

Ms Luke said the charity’s long-term goal was to create a place where homeless people could come and start re-building their lives by offering various forms of assistance.

“Our long-term goal is to have a ‘hub’ where they can come during the day for some support, a shower, [to] do their washing, [to] apply for jobs and housing on our computers, and [to] speak to counsellors for advice,” she said.

Ms Luke said the charity wanted to show that homeless people deserved to be treated the same as anyone else and not be judged, but be “supported as much as possible”.

“This is our dream and it will happen,” she said.

Chelsea Downey said the event was important because without the funds raised from donations, the charity could not continue to support local homeless people.

“We have to pay for food, storage of goods, insurance, rent of hall each week and more, so this is our main fundraiser for the year,” Ms Downey said.

“We would love to be able to feed the homeless an extra night, but we do not have the finances or the time,” she said.

“Our volunteers work full time, so they do not have the time and they donate goods out of their own pockets, we cannot ask them to do more,” she said.

For more information on Walk With Us, visit their website.

Tickets to the Slices and Schooners event cost $35 and can be bought through Facebook.

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