Dozens of volunteer cooks in Yass have jumped at the chance to feed hungry BlazeAid helpers at Bookham. But more are still needed.
Charity and church groups plus many others are banding together to fill a night-time catering roster, five-days-a-week.
Nancye Lee, secretary of the Yass Red Cross, said the job wasn’t as daunting as they first expected.
She said the team of ladies cooked up huge portions on the first night, expecting the volunteers to be ravenous after a day of hard labour in the paddocks.
However, that wasn’t the case.
“We had calls from the dining room saying ‘don’t you have any smaller pieces?’,” she said.
Ms Lee said it was a way the community could say thank-you to the people repairing fences, and rebuilding community spirit after the Cobbler Road bushfire razed around 14,000 hectares west of Yass.
“I’m most grateful that the fire didn’t get across Devil’s Pass,” she said. “We would’ve been repairing picket fences as well as wire fences.”
Ruth Thompson is coordinating groups from the Yass Uniting Church congregation to prepare and serve meals at Bookham.
“Feeding up to 50 people takes a lot of preparation,” Mrs Thompson told the Tribune. “But with careful preparation and use of the good kitchen facilities in the Bookham Hall it can be done.
“We are pleased to look after the BlazeAid volunteers who are providing so much practical support to the Bookham area landowners.”
She said the church had so many volunteers wanting to help, they had been divided up into three teams.
Murrumbateman Uniting Church has been able to lend BlazeAid a deep freeze which has helped with frozen water bottles to take out each day.
Yass Landcare group has committed to feed the forces every second Tuesday night until the fencing is complete.
The group’s secretary Jan Grubb said it was a “real thrill” to be able to help the community in that way.
“I don't think I've ever met such a cheerful happy group of people [the BlazeAid volunteers] in my life. It was a pleasure to prepare and serve a meal for them.”
The Jugiong community and Long Track Pantry have donated casseroles and other food.
“These will be used when the volunteers organise their own meals on Saturday and Sunday,” Mrs Thompson said.
Many other groups have now joined the roster including the Anglican Church, the Vine Ministry, Murrumbateman Lions, Bookham Red Cross and Hospital Auxiliary, Yass Rotary, staff from Yass Valley Council and a number of groups from Harden.
The fencing volunteers will be staying in Bookham for up to six months, and the group leaders hope to sustain the numbers for that time.
“There should be more people filling the holes in Cathy Cooke’s roster,” Ms Lee said.
To help out, or simply put your name down to join a group, call Cathy Cooke at council on 6226 1477.
Councillors lend a hand
Councillors and council staff joined with Harden councillors to feed the BlazeAid volunteers last week.
Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey cooked up a roast, accompanied by vegies and dessert made by a team from Harden council.
Several councillors and staff executives were on hand to serve up the meal.
Cr Jasmin Jones said it was a good opportunity for council to see just how much the volunteer group is helping the community.
She said they were going beyond putting up fences, with some volunteers working stock and even babysitting while farmers had a night off.
“They might be building fences but they might also be the glue that’s sticking a few lives together at the moment,” Cr Jones said.
She said there is a tally board at the Bookham base outlining exactly what the volunteers had contributed.