PHOTO: Koonambil residents have joined the packing effort and are consistently contributing a large number of testing kits to the cause.
By LAURA WILLIAMS
WITH Covid testing efforts ramping up across the state, Coonamble is filling the demand for testing kits with local volunteers continuing to package kits from their homes.
Though Castlereagh Industries originally managed to put together the elements of 50,000 testing kits in July, there has been no time to sit back and relax, with communities from across the New South Wales sourcing their kits from Coonamble’s freshly packaged supply.
Volunteers around the community are working tirelessly to supply the states with vital testing kits, despite being confined to their households.
When news of the combined community effort hit Koonambil, resident Beryl Lane was eager to join the noble task.
It wasn’t long before the project turned the heads of several residents, six of whom put their hands up to form a team. The task was quickly incorporated into the schedule of activities for any Koonambil residents wanting to join, with 300 testing kits being packaged in each session under Head of Activities Jess Canham’s guiding hand.
In total, the six residents have so far produced a combined 1,200 covid packages.
Koonambil Head of Activities Jess Canham says that the residents are really enjoying the activity.
“Someone even commented to me, we might even save a life,” Ms Canham said.
Having to close the door to members of the community under strict stay-at-home restrictions, the charitable contributions of the residents have allowed them a greater sense of connection with the community.
Koonambil CEO Cath Bush says the Koonambil staff are extremely proud of their residents’ willingness to engage with the community.
Meanwhile, the residents of Greene Villa – who originally started volunteering packaging the kits during their lunch breaks at Castlereagh Industries – have continued to pack from the residence, which has set an incredible benchmark of 2,000 kits each day.
James Hoskings and Doug Shields doing their bit at Greene Villa.
Staff member John ‘Tiny’ Lewis says that although lockdown has been a difficult time at Greene Villa, they are grateful to have something to keep their hands full in what could otherwise be a lonelier period.
“Right now, all residents are here full time. It’s been very difficult, but it’s a credit to them how well they’ve handled the change,” said Mr Lewis.
The sense of contribution and purpose through packing is a welcome substitute for their jobs at Castlereagh Industries, which the regular staff aren’t able to attend under the current stay-at-home circumstances.
“Being vulnerable citizens, it’s great that everyone is still able to work and have pride in the fact that they’re putting in effort to something that is so important everywhere.”
Coonamble especially, has benefitted from the close supply following the influx of Covid-19 tests.
“They were able to get supplies straight from the warehouse, which most towns don’t have,” Mr Lewis said.
Castlereagh Industries Productivity Support Person Kelly Ellis says despite isolation, momentum of the packaging hasn’t slowed.
“They’re all loving it, we’re averaging five to seven thousand kits a day, though we have done eleven thousand,” Ms Ellis said.
Having packed 140,000 kits across the community, Acting Manager of Castlereagh Industries Gemma Jordan says they’ve come a long way from the original order of 50,000 kits.
“To be honest, we were a bit gobsmacked at first when NSW Health asked us to do it in a week, but then we blitzed it,” Ms Jordan said.
The giving spirit of organisations and the individuals around town contributing to the safety of our vulnerable communities truly is an accomplishment for Coonamble to hang its hat on.