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Fundraising: Kaye Parker with Wakatipu Community Foundation CEO Jennifer Belmont, left, and chairman Ray Key

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

In three weeks, a group of community-minded Queenstowners have raised almost $430,000, sought expressions of interest from frontline charities in need, and granted more than $150,000 to help with the immediate need in the Wakatipu.

Well-known Kelvin Heights resident Kaye Parker says the Saturday before lockdown she had two requests from families struggling to afford food.

She spoke to friend Jenny McLeod about starting a fund and then got on the phone to mayor Jim Boult to find out how best to help.

By that night founding donor Hugo Charitable Trust had committed to $25,000 if she got another $100,000 committed – and another $25,000 if she got to $250,000.

Parker says, as an ambassador for the Wakatipu Community Foundation, she was “99 per cent confident” its chairman Ray Key and CEO Jennifer Belmont would help with handling the back end of the fundraiser.

“Not only did they say ‘yes’ but they waived all admin fees.”

By the following day, Parker had received “significant donations” from Tony McQuilkin and Sir Eion and Jan, Lady Edgar, and a granting committee had been formed.

Following, lawyer Graeme Todd, a trustee for the Estate of EP Wilding, approved on behalf of trustees a $20,000 donation if the fund reached $200,000.

“In just over three weeks, we’ve bagged $427,702,” Parker says.

And, on Tuesday, the Wakatipu Greatest Needs Fund decided on its first grants, to Happiness House, Baskets of Blessing, Kiwi Harvest, Volunteering Central and Salvation Army, totalling more than $150,000.

Parker says the mission of the fund is two-fold.

“First, to help address gaps in central government assistance to the most vulnerable or worst-affected by Covid-19 in our community.

“Second, 100 per cent of the funds raised will be distributed to frontline charities … to help reduce the fundraising stress on these charities, so they can carry out their core role.

“If sufficient funds are raised we can also assist during the recovery period.

“I’ve made many phone calls and sent many emails to people in the district, and other parts of the country, and overseas, asking them all for donations.

“The generosity of the people of this community has both humbled and inspired all of us involved.”

While the next goal is to get more than $500,000, Sir Eion’s laid down the gauntlet, suggesting the group should aim for $1 million.

“And, I believe he’s right.”

Parker says many people have lost their jobs, aren’t eligible for any central government funding, can’t afford food, rent or bills, or to visit their GP if they’re sick.

Key says the granting committee’s identified groups that will struggle to provide the “really critical services” food, clothing, counselling and support for those in the greatest need in the community.

“Your frontline groups that most of the community will know … they’re the people at the moment dealing with a lot of [those in need].”

They are working closely with the council to ensure there was no overlap, and the necessary gaps in assistance are being filled.

“We’re initially focused with the crisis today, and then we’ll consider recovery down the track,” he says.

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tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz