SMOKED OUT: An effort to raise money for fireys has been called out for the improper way it was handled.
SMOKED OUT: An effort to raise money for fireys has been called out for the improper way it was handled.

Illegal fundraising divides community of Maryvale

DONATIONS for the rural fire service have divided the town of Maryvale, where illegal collection tins were hastily removed from local businesses.

The unsealed tins, positioned at the Maryvale Hotel, Bestbrook Mountain Resort and Gap Moto, yielded more than $230 from community donations.

According to a statement from MPA president David Bowen, the money was intended to go towards the purchase of fire retardant socks for the 14 volunteers at the Gladfield Maryvale Rural Fire Brigade.

The controversy began when community members questioned the collection method.

According to resident Sandra Williams, multiple attendees of the MPA Annual General Meeting said they would not donate to the cause for fears their contribution could be tampered with.

“I rang the justice department who told me it was illegal,” Mrs Williams said.

“Not only because the tins need to be sealed, but also because they have to be a registered charity to take donations like that.

“But when I told the committee that, I just got crucified.”

According to Mrs Williams account, she received multiple messages from members of the MPA, who accused her of “not caring about the cause”.

“But how can they say that, when my husband is in the same rural fire brigade they’re raising money for?” she said.

“He’s been out at Swanfels every day for 11 hours, fighting those fires at nearly 70-years-old.

“I have to just wait and watch the smoke on the mountains and hope he’s okay.

“It’s lovely they want to take donations for them, but they need to do it the right way.”

Mrs Williams said her husband felt discouraged about his volunteer community service after the poor manner in which the matter was handled.

“He said he felt like we were being attacked,” she said.

The plan to purchase fire retardant socks for the fire service will proceed, according to Mr Bowen.

In a statement the president issued an apology to the community “for not following correct protocol” and said the Office of Fair Trading advised the association to donate the proceedings but to enlist the help of registered charities in the future.

Residents wishing to assist their local fireys can contact the Lions Club, Rotary Club or the district’s Rural Fire Service on 07 4698 5720.



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