A North Beach woman has harnessed the power of social media to create a campaign to help a family in need celebrate their daughter’s birthday in style.
On Tuesday evening Robyn – who asked not to use her full name to protect the privacy of the child – shared a post on community Facebook page “Coast Whispers”, discussing a local primary school student would be celebrating her birthday without any presents, due to her family’s financial struggles.
The post asked if anyone could spare items suitable for a 12-year-old girl.
Within 24 hours the post received more than 300 reactions and more than 200 comments from people within the northern coastal region eager to give anything they could. Gifts ranged from fresh flowers and colouring books to money, clothes and toys.
With the hope of giving the birthday girl a special surprise, Robyn said she plans to wrap all the presents herself and deliver them to her house while she’s at school on Friday.
“They do say it takes a village to raise a child,” she says.
“It’s important to me that she feels valued. So, when she gets older, she will remember this, because every child needs to feel special.”
Along with a significant amount of positive praise and support, the post also attracted some backlash, with group members questioning the legitimacy of the cause. Comments were made warning people of scammers and believed the act was unfair for other children in need.
Robyn said she was expecting some negative feedback towards the post but knew the compassion and empathy of the local community would overcome the opposition.
“That’s why it is important for me to help other people,” she says.
“To show my community, my children and my grandchildren that it’s better to be kind in this world.”
City of Stirling coastal ward councillor Felicity Farrelly says local communities hold significant power in sparking positive change.
“I think we need to band together to help each other out in those critical times,” she says .
North Beach Lions Club president Carole Barlett says we should encourage fellowship in all aspects of the local and wider community.
In response to Robyn’s post she said: “It is beautiful to be pulled together by social media to support each other more.
“There are so many good people out there. Together, we can still do good and be good.”
Ms Barlett, who is part of the local Lions Club, was surprised by the range of emotions the initiative received but understood some people’s wariness.
“You do hear about stories of what you call a scam, with people being taken advantage of,” she says.
“But you can’t give to nothing, because you’re suspicious of everything. The more you give, the more you get.”
Having grown up in the North Beach and Trigg region, Robyn said she knew sharing the issue with the Coast Whispers group was the right thing to do to make a difference for this girl’s birthday.
“There’s so many things we can do to make other people feel good about themselves.”