THE first snow of the season had many people reaching for their cameras and woolly hats, but for some the cold snap signalled the beginning of a period of big energy bills and more pressure on the household budget.
For them the onset of winter – or in this case, winter-ish conditions – heralds a period when expenses are hard to cover, and some simply have to go without.
Too often in our generally affluent regional city parents skip meals to ensure their kids are fed and in poorly insulated and heated homes power bills force families to go in search of financial support from organisations like The Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul.
Together the various charities of Orange help hundreds of families make ends meet and Orange is certainly not unique.
In regional Australia wages are often low and the disadvantaged rely heavily on government and non-government support to get by, just as they do in metropolitan areas.
On Thursday the Salvation Army launches its annual Red Shield Appeal with the traditional business luncheon.
There will be generous donations from the business community as well as donations from service clubs and individuals.
But it will be the community response to the city-wide doorknock less than two weeks later which will be most telling in terms of the community’s response to those in need.
On the evening of Friday, May 25, volunteers will begin knocking on our doors, collection buckets in hand and a cheery smile on their faces.
The will be backed up by reinforcements on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27. (Or maybe they won’t – there’s plenty of volunteers who are happy to walk from door to door on two or all three collection days.)
If you’re struggling to find the generous side of your nature, try thinking of how much fun you, your family, your neighbours, or even the perfect strangers you passed by, were having in Friday’s snow.
Then imagine having to try to get your family through a miserable night, or week, or months, putting up with that blistering cold with no way of finding warmth.
For the sake of those who do rely on charities like the Salvos every winter we must hope the community continues to support the work of an organisation which has made such a difference in this and other communities.