Timaru group offering help to those impacted by horror car crash
A mother who knows first-hand the heartbreak of losing a child, is rallying behind the families of those impacted by Saturday’s horror car crash in Timaru.
Javarney Wayne Drummond, 15, Niko William Hill, 15, Andrew George Goodger, 15, Jack Graeme Wallace, 16, and Joseff Alan James McCarthy, 16, all died at the scene.
The 19-year-old driver, Tyreese Fleming, who was on a restricted licence, was the sole survivor.
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Hampers of Hope founder Jacqueline Harris lost Charlotte, one of her eight children, 24 years ago during childbirth, but said she can still remember the crushing inability to do anything other than grieve.
“You can’t do anything, you can’t think about anything except what’s happened,’’ Harris said.
“The last thing you need is to worry about the financial impact as well.”
Harris posted a message on the group’s social media page on Saturday night requesting donations of items including food, vouchers and drinks, for the families affected by ‘’this weekend’s tragedy’’.
She also said the group was collecting donations to go towards ‘’all costs the families are going to incur’’.
Within the first half an hour the group had about 100 private messages from people throughout country wanting to help, Harris said.
When The Timaru Herald arrived at Harris’ home on Tuesday morning, there were boxes of donated groceries items piled around the kitchen table, and she was cooking mince for cottage pies, boiling eggs for 200 sandwiches, cooking two venison roasts and a tray full of sweet chilli chicken drumsticks, preparing 200 filled rolls, tending crock pots full of beef and venison stews, and baking lasagne and bacon and egg pies.
All of these will be given to family impacted the crash.
As well as food, members of the community have been loaning industrial size cookware and extra crockpots to help Harris prepare the meals for the families.
“We hope to have around 200 meals sorted for the families this week,” she said.
“We just want to relieve as many burdens as we can for the families.’’
“Being such a small community, everybody knows everybody. It’s like two degrees of separation.”
Harris knows two of the families impacted by the crash, and said while she knew about the crash not long after it happened, she didn’t know until later that it was fatal.
“I just knew there had been a horrific accident and knew we had to do something,” Harris said.
“We decided straight away to do a meal train to start, and to get our community donating to help the families.
“Then we learnt so many lives were lost, and we wanted to help the families get their loved ones buried.
“Everything we do, we’re doing for all six families.”
Books on grief and loss have also been ordered for the younger siblings of those involved in the fatal, and petrol vouchers have been arranged for the families.
“We’ll do anything we can to try and relieve some of the impact on the families.
“When I lost my daughter there weren’t books like that for her brothers and sisters, and people didn’t like to talk about it.”
Harris said the group would fundraise for “as long as possible’’.
“Any monetary donations will be split up between the families.
“I’m in touch with one family member for each family, and anything those families need, we’ll get it.”
Harris said there had been a huge response from people offering everything from financial support to potato peeling sessions.
“People are just wanting to get behind these families,” she said.
“We’ve got food donations coming down at the end of the week from Christchurch, and Robert Harris up there [in Christchurch] has also started collecting for us in four of their cafés.
“Bombay Magic dairy donated takeaway containers, so kudos to them too.”
Harris said it is time-consuming work, but she has “the luxury of being a stay-at-home housewife.
“I also have admins who help out with Facebook and with sourcing things.
“I’m just one of those people, once I have an idea, I just get on and do it.”
“I’ve had a lot of children, so I’ve got perfect organising skills,” she joked .
Harris said thanks to large donations from several Timaru farmers, there was enough meat for the cause.
However, she welcomed donations of cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables, bread, sandwich fillings, children-friendly snacks and cold drinks, as well as petrol cards or monetary donations.