Cash for cans raises thousands for Bundaberg RACQ LifeFlight Rescue chopper service

Two LifeFlight volunteers, inspired by heartbreaking personal tragedy, are leading the charge to raise as much money as possible, for their local rescue helicopter, simply by collecting cans and plastic bottles.

In 2018, Hervey Bay locals, Sandra and Doug, tragically lost their granddaughter and daughter-in-law in a horrific car crash.

“Our son, his wife and their teenage daughter were involved in a car crash, with a truck, not far out of Toowoomba,” Doug said.

“Olivia, our granddaughter, died at the scene and Bev, our daughter-in-law held on for a week, but she too died. Our son, Allan, managed to pull through, but I don’t know how.”

Several rescue helicopters were called to the scene of the crash, including an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue aircraft.

“I walk about five kilometres a day for exercise purposes, and gradually the idea of cleaning up rubbish on the side of the road, combined with donations to the rescue helicopters took shape,” Doug said.

“The rattle of bottles from our neighbours’ yellow bins on rubbish day, gave us the idea of inviting all residents of our street to participate.”

Sandra and Doug, along with help from their community, have managed to raise more than $3,000 – that’s an incredible 30,000 cans and bottles.

“As the word spreads, we get people other than residents of our street, dropping off recyclables into the special bins near our front gate,” Doug said.

“Last year, COVID caused things to slow down a bit, but we are up and running again. My next trip to the recycle depot will be my 48th drop-off.”

While the couple say they will never come to terms with losing their granddaughter and daughter-in-law, it helps to know the money they’re raising contributes to keeping the choppers in the sky.

“Every time we see the big blue and yellow chopper fly over our house, on its way to the airport here in Hervey Bay, it certainly feels satisfying to think that we are helping in a small way,” Doug said.

The Bundaberg-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter service has come to the aid of more than 100 people so far this year.

“It’s incredible to see the effort our community goes to, to raise vital funds for our service,” North Coast Fundraising Coordinator Mandy Hentschel said.

“Each year, LifeFlight has to make up 30% of its operational costs, so every bit helps.”

The LifeFlight Foundation is always looking for community support. You can find out more by contacting LifeFlight’s North Coast Community Engagement Coordinator Mandy Hentschel at mandy.hentschel@lifeflight.org.au.