A dollar-matching local fundraising initiative by the Gandel family, Co-Founders of Gandel Philanthropy, has helped Balnarring Fire Brigade purchase its new ultralight vehicle earlier this year.
The brigade was approached in January this year with the offer to match the total money collected over the course of one month at a nearby winery and sculpture park.
Money was collected in a firefighting helmet located at the front counter of Pt Leo Estate, which was owned and operated by the Gandels.
Within the month, patrons and community members donated a total of $6757 at Pt Leo Estate to go to the brigade and that sum was matched by Gandel Philanthropy, totalling $13,514 in donations.
The brigade received the $140,000 ultralight vehicle in December 2019 and these locally raised funds, as well as countless other generous contributions, helped pay off the unit in full by March.
Balnarring Captain Graeme Briggs said the vehicle is helping the brigade better service the local community.
“Within our response area, there have been many larger properties divided into smaller properties and access through tighter farm gates and routes has been increasingly difficult for larger tankers,” Graeme said.
“For that reason, we saw a need for a quicker response vehicle to access these locations.”
Gandel Philanthropy CEO Vedran Drakulic OAM said co-founders of the philanthropy, John and Pauline Gandel, owned a property near Balnarring Fire Brigade and chose to show their gratitude by fundraising.
“It was great that we were able to make a local contribution directly to Balnarring Fire Brigade,” Vedran said.
“John and Pauline feel a strong connection to the area, and for that reason they felt inclined to show their support during last year’s bushfires.”
Graeme said the brigade is incredibly grateful for all contributions made by the community.
“Our generous community puts their hand in their pocket each year for us and we really appreciate it,” he said.
“It allows us to fund extra vehicles within the brigade, operational equipment and allows us to help save lives and property.
“No matter the size of the donation, it’s all valuable in helping us do what we do.”