PHILIPPINE-born Bega Valley nurse Judy Russell was reduced to tears on Wednesday after a fundraising effort to help her family raised thousands of dollars.
When Typhoon Haiyan tore through the eastern Philippines last month it killed thousands and left up to four million people homeless.
Ms Russell’s aunt and uncle were among those killed and many other family members, including her sister, lost their homes and livelihoods in the village of Tanauan.
In response, Ms Russell and her husband Bob started a fundraising effort to help her family members rebuild their homes and their lives (BDN, 6/12).
The couple were supported by the staff of Hillgrove House where Ms Russell works as a nurse.
Colleagues donated goods for the raffle, as well as make monetary donations to the cause and helped the Russells sell raffle tickets around town.
First prize was a bumper food hamper and second prize was a luxurious Christmas fruitcake made by Bega District Nursing Home cook Robin Dansey and iced by Barbara Black.
The raffle was drawn on Wednesday during the Hillgrove House Christmas party.
Ms Russell drew out the winning entries, with Hillgrove House staffer Rhonda Sheehy winning first prize and an outside ticket holder named Eric winning the cake.
She was stunned when Karen Tett from Hillgrove House announced the raffle and additional donations had raised $2123.35.
Ms Russell was clearly overwhelmed and cried as she tried to read out her speech thanking her colleagues and residents of the nursing home for supporting her.
She also thanked Bega District Nursing Home CEO Jim Butterworth and director of care Kathy Miller for their support, as well as everyone in the wider Bega community for purchasing raffle tickets.
The mood was lightened when Santa arrived to give presents to the residents of Hillgrove House who had enjoyed a full roast Christmas dinner with family and volunteers.
Still stunned by the amount raised, Ms Russell revealed more is coming in thanks to a “Mad Hair and Pyjama Day” to be held by Bega District Nursing Home staffers on Friday.