Two ordinary blokes from Waikerie have mounted a relief mission to Kangaroo Island after rallying their own Riverland community to help out an Island they have never visited.
They raised an amazing $23,500 through a raffle and and on the weekend brought over a trailer load of essentials from tools to medical supplies to pet food and of course the cash to hand out.
Electrician Sam Feist and Murray cod fish farmer Ben Schier started their Waikerie relief mission to Kangaroo Island after realising much of the worldwide fundraising effort was going to other regions.
"We just thought other places like NSW and even the Adelaide Hills were getting a lot of attention but Kangaroo Island always seems to be forgotten because of its isolation and its just harder to get stuff over there," Sam said.
So they started with a raffle and had an amazing response from the local business community. "Not one business declined," he said.
Goods worth thousands were donated and this was followed by a community barbecue, complete with the local CFS trucks as Sam is an active member of the Waikerie brigade.
Then came the challenge of getting the goods to where they were most needed after arriving on the ferry.
After checking in with Cheryl May and Parndana CFS and handing over cash to the brigade, they headed out to the Western Districts sporing club where they met with football club president Tony Nolan and Jade Hinton, who are helping with the recovery efforts.
Goods were unloaded there for local families, as was $10,000 directly to the Western District sporting club to assist with rebuilding the football, netball, cricket and tennis program.
Tony Nolan said the generosity of the Waikerie boys had been amazing and had left him thinking we should all do more for other communities at their time of need.
The cash and donations from the Riverland was definitely helping the relief effort right now. Tony has just sent out a message of thanks and hope that can be read here: A message from Western Districts Football Club
They also gave out money directly to others in need - helping to pay for swag for someone sleeping in a car, working with a PIRSA official to arrange the hiring of 10 portable toilets to go into burned out farms, while a shearer got a new set of gear after losing his.
They were shocked by how widespread the devastation is on the western end of the Island and how many families need help.
They also visited Sam Mitchell at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park in Parndana and hugely admired what he and has team for doing for the Island's surviving wildlife.
Two days was just not enough, according to Sam and Ben, who made new friends and caught up with old friends Dan and Hannah Morgan.
The Waikerie boys brought with them chainsaws and generators to help clean up but were flat out just talking to people and helping out financially. The Army was doing a massive job too.
Together with their families, the boys definitely plan to come back and watch the rebuild progress and maybe watch a game of Wonks footy.
Besides, they are working on getting over to the Island a converted bus and a caravan that an elderly Waikerie resident want to donate to the KI bushfire relief effort.
"We just wish we hadn't left it so long to come and visit," Sam said.