CFA marks 70 years of giving for the kids

This year, Country Fire Authority (CFA) is celebrating its 70-year anniversary proudly supporting the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

Members across the state are reflecting on the CFA’s rich and generous history raising money for the kids at the Royal Children’s Hospital, uncovering the proud local stories of CFA brigades that have been raising funds for decades.

Brigades began fundraising for the Appeal just six years after CFA was formed in 1945, making the annual tradition a staple of our identity.

One of the most iconic and familiar sights of the Appeal is the thousands of volunteers rattling purple tins on fire trucks and standing at traffic lights right across Victoria

CFA has raised more than $34 million since 1951, contributing to Good Friday Appeal’s total tally of more than $381 million.

Every participating brigade today has its own unique story about how it started raising money for the Good Friday Appeal.

One of the first CFA brigades to get involved was Edithvale Fire brigade in 1954, and long-time member Philip Jones said their fundraising techniques have changed a lot in 67 years.

“The brigade used to have a vintage Austin series tanker and an old furniture van, which we’d drive around asking locals for money for the Children’s Hospital,” he said.

“We’d travel through Edithvale before we made stops at surrounding suburbs like Aspendale, Mordialloc, Parkdale, Chelsea Heights and Aspendale Gardens as we made our way along Beach Road.

“We’d be driving all day, having a lot of fun and friendly banter with locals and other collecting brigades along the way.

“Once the day was out, we’d take the tanker and the van to Flinders Street to drop the money off at the old Herald Sun building.

“We appreciate our community’s ongoing support of the Appeal and I am proud of what it has become today.”

The Royal Children’s Hospital has a special place in the heart of Bolinda-Monegeeta firefighter Kylie Vernardos.

Kylie Venardos with her 6 month-old daughter Rory at Edithvale fire station.

Kylie’s six-month-old daughter, Rory, was admitted to the Royal Children’s Hospital late last year after she developed an acute respiratory condition.

“Rory was born seven weeks premature and when we finally brought her home, she developed a respiratory infection and we were told to take her to the emergency department of the Royal Children’s Hospital.

“We were taken to the Butterfly Ward where they placed her on breathing support and inserted a feeding tube.

Kylie said the doctors and nurses who worked with Rory did an incredible job stabilising her and bringing her to full health within five days.

“The condition came on within 24 hours and she was rapidly deteriorating – it was worrying,” she said.

“We are so grateful to the Royal Children’s Hospital and are proud to be a part of CFA’s strong support of the Appeal to help families just like mine.”

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said CFA has a long and passionate history with the Appeal and the partnership highlights the unique characteristics that make up a CFA member.

“We are extremely proud to be supporting the Good Friday Appeal once again this year,” he said.

“You can expect to see your local CFA members out and about in your community this year, tin rattling in a COVIDSafe manner to fundraise for the Appeal right across Victoria.

“We understand these past 12 months have been tough for Victorians, but if you can, we encourage you to open your hearts and dig deep for the kids at the Royal Children’s Hospital.”

Good Friday Appeal Executive Director, Rebecca Cowan said “We are so grateful to the CFA for all of their support. We have had an incredible 70 year partnership with the CFA, particularly across regional Victoria where they are often seen on the streets in Brigade trucks shaking tins and collecting for the kids.”

“Many of our CFA fundraisers are situated in the worst affected drought and bushfire areas within the state and yet continue to help the Good Friday Appeal every year. We are overwhelmed by their dedication – they provide a valuable life-blood to our annual appeal and raise funds that go directly towards The Royal Children’s Hospital and we can’t thank the CFA and their volunteers enough,” continued Rebecca.

Many CFA brigades across the state will also be fundraising online through the Good Friday Appeal’s Virtual Tin Shake.

If you wish to donate online, you can search for your local brigade’s tin on the Good Friday Appeal’s Virtual Tin Shake website at www.goodfridayappeal.com.au/virtual-tin-shake.

Story published: Monday 1 March 2021

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