Stewart Free believes in leading by example when it comes to teaching his children the importance of helping others who are less fortunate.
The Jirsch Sutherland Partner, who is based in the Newcastle office, is preparing to head to Vanuatu armed with cash and equipment to help the youngsters who live there. Every September for the past nine years the Free family has visited the Pacific island nation with school, sporting and surfing supplies for the local children.
Operation Do Something, as the Frees call it, has raised more than $110,000 and donated more than 130 surfboards to the locals. The money has bought everything from crayons, pencils and laptops to clothes and soccer balls.
“The rules are simple,” Stewart says. “Donate if you can in cash, school and sporting supplies, surfboards and surf gear. We are not a charity, so it isn’t a tax deduction. The previous efforts have been such a success, as it is a collaborative effort by all involved. We just do it for the sake of doing it. For those of you with old surfboards in the garage, feel free to donate them as we give them to the Vanuatu Surfing Association, who organise surfing clinics and competitions for the local kids.”
That’s what makes this such an admirable cause and why Stewart’s colleagues at Jirsch Sutherland do everything they can to support Operation Do Something. There may not be a charity tax deduction in it, but what’s better is knowing that every dollar and every item goes to the kids.
This year the Frees are shifting focus a little and trying to assist informal village preschools and kindergartens. “We are endeavouring to target some of the most at risk areas where schooling is often out of reach for the families,” Stewart says.
“We are putting together village packs focused on what each community needs. They will be comprised of a range of items including sporting supplies, educational resources, cooking implements, food and gardening tools. What each pack contains will depend on the village’s specific needs. In addition, we are preparing a small but important little educational gift bag for the little kids in each area.”
Donated supplies are always welcome, but Stewart says he would appreciate cash more this year. “I’m still not sure exactly what each village needs and for a lot of the supplies we will be purchasing them in Vanuatu”.
Jirsch Sutherland has a Commonwealth Bank account to administer donations, and any contributions will be gratefully received. Please note your name in the description field. As Stewart says: “Remember that a little goes a long way.”