Members and supporters will be aware of our support for (and from) the Ritchies supermarket chain – supporters who obtain a (free) Community Benefit Card nominating APMA as their charity of choice have a percentage of their supermarket spend paid to APMA. This provides an important regular monthly income to help pay for services, and we are grateful to Ritchies and supportive shoppers.
But it was whilst preparing for a number of fundraising BBQs in January that we really discovered the extent of support we could expect from Ritchies. We contacted the Store manager at the Stones Corner (Brisbane) Ritchies Supa IGA store, hoping to source the supplies required at competitive prices. Darren’s response was swift – and unexpectedly generous. The store agreed to provide all the supplies needed, went to great efforts to source the cheapest product, and applied a ‘manager’s’ special to a number of the supplies. The store also generously donated $800 from its Community Benefit Fund, which more than covered the cost of the supplies we required to operate the initial BBQ at a local Bunnings warehouse.
But the support was far more than just a financial donation and generous pricing! APMA can claim knowledge of persistent pain issues, but it certainly can’t predict severe weather events. As it turned out, our first BBQ was held on January 14 – the day after the flood waters which devastated Brisbane and Ipswich (and much of SE Queensland) peaked. There were entire suburbs cut off, widespread power outages and supermarket shelves stripped of food supplies. We assumed that the BBQ would not proceed, but received a frantic phone call from Bunnings the day before pleading with us to proceed with the BBQ, to deliver sustenance to the expected deluge of desperate shoppers seeking the tools and cleaning equipment necessary to start the flood clean-up. Darren and his team at Ritchies swung in to action with less than 24 hours notice and in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances were able to supply almost all the product required for the BBQ (unfortunately the 20 kilos of onions just could not be obtained – by Ritchies, or anyone else, but there were very few complaints in the circumstances from hungry shoppers). Most supermarket shelves across Brisbane had been stripped bare because of the floods and associated food shortages, and many shoppers expressed their astonishment that APMA was still able to operate a BBQ in the midst of the flood devastation. Several advised that they had not eaten for 48 hours!.
It was all the more remarkable given that the Ritchies store had lost power the night before amidst the widespread flood-related black-outs across Brisbane. The staff had spent the entire night emptying the store’s fridges and freezers of their entire contents to load them into a specially ordered refrigerated truck, only to have to turn around at midnight and replace all of the products when the power came back on. The Ritchies staff’s good humour, patience and preparedness to follow up issues on APMA’s behalf – despite lack of sleep - never faltered.
Many people at the BBQs had been evacuated – the following week at BBQs at Officeworks to coincide with back-to-school, a number of families told us that due to loss of home and/or evacuation, their children would have to start at new schools. We were very pleased that in addition to raising critical funds for APMA, we were also able to collect many hundreds of dollars for the Flood Relief Appeal.