Locals rally to help fire victims
ONE of the darkest days in Australia's peacetime history prompted Casino local Khan Choppy to give blood for the first time yesterday.
Northern Rivers residents rushed to the phones and to the blood bank in an outpouring of generosity as the death toll in Victoria's horrendous blaze was predicted to top 200.
Mr Choppy, 24, said he was spurred on by his boss yesterday to make a trip to the mobile Red Cross Blood service at Casino RSM.
“My boss convinced me to come down. He said: 'It's better off to do it. It could be us one day'.”
Mr Choppy's sympathy for the burns victims overcame his squeamishness.
“I'm a bit of a sook when it comes to needles,” the rugby-playing sand blaster said.
He was one of thousands of people across the region to respond to calls for blood and financial donations for Victorians clinging to life in hospitals, families who have lost loved ones, and those whose homes have been razed.
The Red Cross' Lismore Donor Centre said it was receiving one call every few minutes from locals wanting to give blood in response to the devastation down south.
“We've had a lot of calls and a lot of donors come to the door,” donor centre manager Leanne Latham said.
“We're probably getting a call every couple of minutes, and that's just in Lismore.”
The centre's mobile unit will be back in Casino today from 10am to 2pm. Normal services will resume in Lismore on Wednesday.
Local churches were also in the process of establishing collections for the national bushfire appeal, while Richmond Local Area Command police officers have begun passing around the hat.
“We're obviously taking the hat around at work,” Inspector Greg Moore said.
“We've got a few people on deck who give blood regularly, so they're being encouraged to go down and give blood.”
Ballina Lions Club is also pitching in and has established collection points at various supermarkets around town.
The donations will be sent to Lions ALF Emergency/Disaster fund.
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