IT has been five years since the first Vinnies Van took to the streets to feed Orange’s poor.
Since then, more than 20,000 meals have been handed out by volunteers.
In all kinds of weather, adults and children have lined up for a helping hand.
“To us it is still about giving people a hand up not a hand out,” Rosie Frecklington said.
To mark five years since the start of the food van and the Vinnies Cafe, which operates every Friday at the Senior Citizens Centre, St Vincent de Paul and its dedicated band of volunteers took delivery of a new van, blessed on Sunday by Father Paul Devitt.
St Vincent de Paul Bathurst Central Council president Bob Lulham said the van visited areas twice a week during an off pension week.
“It is just one of those circumstances of our community that some people are surviving on the borderline,” he said.
Mrs Frecklington, who coordinates the collection and preparation of food along with Chris Skerrig and Nicole Lockwood, said it was the generosity of the volunteers who prepared food and went out in the van that enabled the service to keep running.
However, she said it was also the generosity of Orange businesses that had kept the service operating.
“When I first went to St Vincent de Paul with the idea we were given a grant,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“We have not touched that grant because of the many donations we receive on an ongoing basis, from people who ask for no thanks and no recognition.”
Mrs Frecklington recalls the day, five years ago, when she opened an envelope from Cadia Valley Operations that brought the food van to fruition.
“It was a cheque for $10,000 and I had to put my glasses on to count the noughts,” she said.
“I was so overcome I was laughing and crying all at the same time.”
Orange mayor John Davis said the service the Vinnies Van provides shows the generosity of the Orange community.
“It shows what a wonderful capacity many people have to work to make the lives of others just a little better,” he said.