It takes a community
In one single day our community raised over $71,000 for one of the oldest children’s charities in Geelong. The Cottage by the Sea Annual Fair has been running for over 60 years and is consistently the biggest single fundraising activity on the Cottage calendar.
According to Tony Featherston, CEO at Cottage by the Sea, about 2000 people visited the Fair on Sat 12th January. “We saw lots of locals but many people drove in from Geelong and as far away as Melbourne,” says Tony. “All up, we raised a little over $71,000 on the day. That just tops last years’ fantastic result.”
Behind the scenes of this incredible event are the Ladies from Cottage by the Sea’s four fundraising branches. The branches operate across Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula, tirelessly raising funds for Cottage camps throughout the year. These remarkable volunteers organise and set up the Fair, as well as working on the day. Without their continuous support the Cottage would struggle to provide inspiration, fun and opportunity to disadvantaged children.
“Fundraising activities are so important to us because we don’t receive any government funding,” Toy explains, “And people can be reassured that all of the proceeds from the fair go directly to fund children’s programmes, equipment and facilities. Our administrative costs are largely funded through our Foundation. It’s important for people to know that every dollar they spent at the Fair, or donated to us goes to help the children who come to Cottage from all over Victoria.”
Programmes at the Cottage take the form of school camps. Children who attend the camps are disadvantaged or lacking opportunities for a wide range of reasons. Many children who attend these camps have never had a family holiday, some have never seen the ocean before. In a safe, nurturing holiday environment these children are encouraged to try new things and build their confidence. Children leave camp with a new-found resilience that helps them engage better with their own community and school life.
“Beyond the Fair,” Tony tells us, “our four Branches and other supporters hold a number of offsite fundraisers for the Cottage. The Queenscliff branch will host a Golf Day at Queenscliff Golf Club toward the end of May, there is a Race Day at Geelong Racing Club organized by our local ambassadors later in the year and another Golf Day over at Flinders coming up this month. People can help us out by organising their own offsite fundraiser, or donating prizes for raffles and silent auctions.”
“Again, the money from these fundraising activities goes to finance camps at Cottage by the Sea.”
Over 1,200 children attend camps at Cottage by the Sea each year and it costs about $600 to fund each child for a five-day camp. The most common program on offer at the Cottage is “Take a Break”. On these camps about 20 children, generally from grades 3-6, stay at the Cottage for up to 5 days. Children are usually referred by school welfare officers, welfare agencies or government departments. The program emphasises co-operation and respect and encourages children to be healthy, active, happy and secure.