To American firefighters, with love
MANY families enjoyed the summer break with friends, but for thousands of emergency responders, they spent it on the frontline battling the country’s catastrophic bushfires.
Michelle Povey from Torquay said her husband Mick Gerl was among them, joined by 42 American firefighters who flew in for a month to help.
“My husband works for Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management and was the US taskforce liaison. He was up in Gippsland with the US firefighters; they flew home a couple of weeks ago.
“I’ve barely seen my husband this summer, he’s been going back and forth. He did three trips, most recently with the Americans up at Swift Creek.
“They (the Americans) worked solidly so I thought it would be nice to send a little bit of the Surf Coast home with them. I put the call out to the community and the response was overwhelming.”
Thanks to the community’s generosity, Ms Povey put together 42 goodie bags, for 42 Americans – jam packed with an array of Aussie favourites.
“I put the post up on the community noticeboard and the response was insane. There was so much support and offers, I couldn’t believe how generous this community is.
“Each bag had handmade soaps, Tim Tams, Anzac biscuits, a cap, T-shirt, Vegemite, Twisties and a few extra things. People dropped it off or I’ve picked donations up.
“FoodWorks Lorne have been phenomenal, they contacted me and offered me whatever I needed and transported it down here.”
Ms Povey said having a family member or partner volunteering or working during a crisis could be taxing for families.
“They’re making huge sacrifices while they’re away, it’s a worry. You watch the news and I worry thinking my husband is at that fire or in that spot.”
She drove the bags up to Melbourne two weeks ago, where she received a Service Award from the Americans.
“It was quite flattering they didn’t need to give me anything. I found out it’s really hard to get an award, but they said what I did was incredible and so lovely.”