Nationals Senator and Enormity Inc. founder Steve Martin has led the call for Australians to donate at least 730 more coats to help keep the homeless warm this winter as the charity closes in on the milestone of 100,000 donations since its inception.
Senator Martin said homelessness continued to be a growing problem as Enormity had made the initial goal in 1998 of getting 100,000 coats donated as that had been the number of Australians that had been estimated to be homeless at the time. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data estimates that 116,000 Australians had been homeless on Census night in 2016: a 4.6 per cent increase over the last five years
“Unfortunately homelessness continues to be a major problem throughout Australia and the work of Enormity is needed more than ever as it closes in on the milestone of 100,000 coats being donated since it was established in 1998,” Senator Martin said today.
“It’s pleasing to know that Australians through their past generosity do care about the homeless and that Enormity is doing something to help those in need. It was also encouraging to see mayors from around Australia do their bit last month when I attended the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly and 70 coats were donated. We need just 730 more coats to be collected from caring Aussies to reach the 100,000 mark and keep the momentum of caring alive.”
Enormity President Emily Allardice said giving a coat can make a world of difference to a homeless person or someone in need.
“For people who can afford to buy their own clothes a coat may seem insignificant, but to someone who cannot, this small item could mean the world to them,” she said. “It could mean that they are more able to look after themselves, keep warm, help their children and even look smart for a job interview they may have. It’s something to help them out and that’s really important.”
It was fitting that Senator Martin was joined at Apex Park, in Ulverstone, by Enormity’s inaugural president, Anna Paice, former Central Coast mayor and inaugural patron Sue Smith, and the current mayor and patron, Jan Bonde, for the call for action to help the needy.
Founding President Ms Paice said Ulverstone was the right place for the latest call for coats to be donated as it was the site of the appeal being started 19 years ago.
"Enormity was a group of teenagers who got together for weekly meetings in 1996 in the hope of bringing young people's voices to the community landscape of Central Coast,” she said.
"We started Coat Day huddled on the streets of Ulverstone collecting coats from caring locals to be distributed through charity shops on the North West Coast. We even had one donated by former Prime Minister John Howard.
"It was a drive to get people actively thinking about the needs of others during the cold winter months, and I think it worked well. It's great for young people to step up and start looking out for others rather than focusing only on their own needs.
"Over the years there have been impressive numbers of coats donated, and it's exciting to be part of this final drive for coats after 20 years.”
Ms Smith said it was encouraging to see the community-based Enormity grow from a movement supported by teenagers to one where donations have come from the likes of model Elle McPherson, AFL great Kevin Sheedy, Aussie pop group Killing Heidi, and politicians from all sides of the political divide.
“I urge all to not only be involved in a donation, but to encourage others within their sphere of influence to do the same so we can pass the 100,000 mark and go beyond it to show we are a caring community,” she said.
Mayor Bonde said donations of coats can be made at St Vincent de Paul Society centres around Australia.
“In its 20th year, Enormity, along with 3500 young volunteers nationally, have received and distributed more than 99,200 coats, including winter clothing to the homeless and needy of Australia,” she said. “It is pleasing to see great results when the community pulls together to help each other, and for an iconic organisation like Vinnies to be on board.”
Senator Martin said National Coat Day – using the social media hashtag #NationalCoatDay – will be held on Saturday, July 14. Collection points will be open between 10am and 2pm at Apex Park, Reibey St, Ulverstone, and at the Devonport Corporate Centre, on the corner of Best and Edward streets.
For more information and how to donate, visit www.stevemartin.com.au/enormity/