Article submitted by Roger Thornton – District Chair Donations in Kind
Direct Relief Santa Barbara California – Qantas –DHL- Donations In Kind West Footscray – Red Cross / CFA/ Rotary – The people who need them.
On the 7th of January Rotary Melbourne received a phone call from a Representative of Direct Relief, which is a Santa Barbara based non-profit, nonpartisan organization with a stated mission to “improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations by mobilising and providing essential medical resources needed for their care.  
Direct Relief had already been in touch with the Australian Red Cross and on the basis of pre-commitment from the Red Cross, they shipped 24 pallets containing 97,500 P2 / N95 masks to Melbourne utilising air cargo capacity donated by Qantas and ground transport by DHL. 
The connection with Rotary is that Dean Axelrod, Associate Director, Partnerships & Philanthropy at Direct Relief is also a Rotarian, and is President Elect for the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara.  At Dean’s suggestion, a call was made to the Rotary Club of Melbourne on Tuesday morning, resulting in a number of swift actions initiated by Rotary Melbourne:
  • To assist Direct Relief, Rotary Melbourne offered to facilitate access to storage capacity at the Rotary Donations In Kind (DIK) warehouse in West Footscray.  Storage capacity was available and the shipment of 24 pallets arrived at the DIK warehouse on the 9th January. We were fortunate that we were filling a container of beds for Somalia and had some room to take them in. The beds went in the morning and the pallets arrived in the afternoon!
  • At the same time District 9800 Governor, Grant Hocking wrote to Australian District Governors to advise of the availability of serious quantities of p2 masks and seeking input from Australian Rotary Districts and Clubs on the immediate needs of their communities for these masks. 
  • This has resulted in the immediate distribution of around 34,000 masks to North Eastern Victoria and East Gippsland.
  • Another 20 pallets on the ground in Sydney are destined for District 9685 in the Blue Mountains and for District 9675 in the Southern Highlands.
  • The next consignment of 30 pallets has arrived and distribution Is underway.
  • The plan is unfolding and we’re confident that the bulk of the remaining stock of masks will be distributed over the coming weeks, including Port Macquarie and Canberra.
And it’s not only masks:
We had a team of members from the new Passport Club and other volunteers sort and pack 5 pallets of medical consumables under the guidance of a Veterinarian member. These have been delivered to the Victorian Department Of Agriculture’s Central Vet Store for issue to animal welfare agencies seeking assistance.
We have also dispatched 50 cartons of new industrial clothing to Bairnsdale for EGRFA to distribute for use in the forthcoming cleanup, with the balance of these going into Southern NSW for the same purpose.
This and the other support DIK are providing for this disaster could only happen because of the generosity of the Rotary Clubs, who help to fund your store and the volunteers who do the work.  These Clubs have already made a significant contribution to Bushfire Aid.