The Manning Valley community is displaying its huge heart and encircling Cuddlepie Early Childhood Learning Centre with care and hope.
The story of the double blow of losing their cherished co-worker, Abbey Stephen, to a head on collision, followed by a break-in at the centre, where a safe containing funds raised to construct ‘Abbey Lane’ in Abbey’s honour, (Manning River Times, February 23) clearly touched the generous souls of our community.
Although unsought, donations have been coming to the centre from all directions. This started with individual community members asking on Facebook where they could donate to the centre.
And then there were the businesses and organisations who quietly contacted Cuddlepie to offer donations.
On the Wednesday the break-in was discovered, Club Taree immediately donated a tablet to replace one that was stolen. Hennessy Coffee also donated a tablet.
Wingham Tigers Rugby League Club donated $200 and Jack and Co. is organising its own fundraising to assist the centre.
Edstein Creative will donate the plaque and labour to mount it when construction finally takes place.
Bunnings are coming in to create a garden bed with the children, and the early childhood teachers at Taree TAFE donated a book pack.
Abbey Stephen’s friends, Noah Kircher, Lucas Mepham and Sean Pole-Cini, shaved their heads and live-streamed the event on Facebook, raising $2768 in the process.
On Wednesday this week, Coastline Credit Union’s Taree branch manager, Jeff Haisell and staff member Brielle Oxenbridge visited Cuddlepie to hand over a cheque for $2500.
“I know it’s not going to build your awning, but it will go along way to getting you that step closer. We’re proud to be able to support you,” Jeff told Cuddlepie director Bec Horsburgh.
“It’s a real pleasure and an honour to be able to help you out.”
The Royal Hotel will hold a fundraising night this Saturday, March 3 from 10pm to 2am. Tahlara Osborne manages the nightclub at the Royal and was moved when she read the story.
“I just really felt for the preschool when they were broken into. I felt like I needed to do something to help them. So I thought ‘why not?’,” Tahlara said.
“I rang my boss at the pub and said ‘please?’ and he said ‘do whatever you like’. He’s got a lot to do with the football club Abbey played in.
“People I know and businesses just reached out; we’ve had such a huge response back from the community with lots of donations. I’m so happy with how it’s turned out. It’s bigger than I ever thought it would be.”
Tahlara has had t-shirts made up to commemorate Abbey, with the screen printing donated by Old Bar business Fab Art. The t-shirts will be for sale on the night for $30.
“That’s If there are any left because we’ve had such a huge response from the public!” Tahlara said.
The Royal Hotel has created the ‘Abbey Cocktail’ for the night, with $2 from every sale going straight to Abbey Lane. In addition $1 from the sale of every spirit will be donated.
There are more than 30 prizes in the raffle, with the major prize being a three-night stay at Seashells Beachfront Resort at Diamond Beach. People will also be able to donate money on the night.
Snap Fitness in Taree are holding a fundraising day on Thursday, March 8. They will be selling raffle tickets and protein shakes and balls and more.
Bec Horsburgh said she is overwhelmed by the community support.
“Words just can’t express how grateful we are. Getting some community support - we just didn’t realise there was so much out there,” she said.