From 1974 right up until 2019, Vinnies Doorknock Appeal was a ubiquitous fundraiser for the high-profile charity with a strong local presence – but now it is being replaced by the digital Knock On Effect.
Usually held in February each year, Vinnies Doorknock raised money to assist people who had fallen on tough times to help cover the basic necessities.
The 2020 appeal was cancelled due to the smoke haze, and this year the ongoing impact of COVID has meant it has seen the same fate.
“That was one of the appeals that served the community really well,” said St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn CEO, Barnie van Wyk.
“But it was also an opportune time for us to reconsider where we are at in terms of the appeal because we had over 1,000 volunteers going out doorknocking.”
When Vinnies decided it was time to reinvent the campaign, they approached a group of University of Canberra students, who along with consultancy firm Synergy Group, conceived the idea of new fundraiser, The Knock On Effect.
“Most of our volunteers are more senior citizens, so we had to look at that in terms of how we get more awareness, more families involved, and just spread the whole fundraising awareness while trying to recruit more volunteers for our other programs,” Mr van Wyk said.
“Every $5 you donate, every hour that you provide of your time, every piece of clothing you donate and even every smile you give somebody has a knock-on effect.”
Launched on Friday 19 February, at Raiders HQ in Braddon with support from Canberra Toyota, Canberra Region Rugby League, and the club itself, the Knock On Effect will run through March, raising funds to help those in need through an online platform.
With Vinnies planning to run the appeal every March from now on, Mr van Wyk is hopeful it could one day outlast the Doorknock Appeal.
Raiders forward Sia Solioa has a longstanding relationship with Vinnies, having done the CEO Sleepout multiple times over the years.
Recognised for his extensive charity work with the NRL’s 2019 Ken Stephens Medal, Mr Soliola said getting involved with local charities is especially important given the impact COVID continued to have on the sector.
“With what happened last year and what’s ongoing right now, and such a cloud over what we can and can’t do, this is just a great way,” he said.
“For me, doing a couple of sleepouts and with that experience, it’s really getting everyone to know and understand it [homelessness] is not what you think it is,” he said.
“Once you really get involved in it and see the different dynamics on how everything works, it really opens up your eyes to see it could easily be me.”
Having joined the Raiders before the 2015 season, Mr Soliola said he’s proud of the club’s strong ties to Canberra.
“This club really branches out to a lot of areas,” he said.
“Having the playing group and having someone like Stick (head coach Ricky Stuart), who has his own foundation and is really connected with the community, having the leaders do that and for it to filter through to the playing group, it just makes that connection a lot stronger.
“You can see that since Stick’s been here and how it’s built over the years.”
Having recently moved to Canberra from the Gold Coast with his family before the pre-season, new recruit Ryan James said getting involved with charity work like the Vinnies Knock On Effect appeal was an important way for him to connect with the local community.
“It’s always good to get behind a great cause, joining this club and everything they do in the community … they go out and spread the love,” he said.
Raiders centre Curtis Scott said after a COVID affected first year in Canberra, being involved locally through measures like the Knock On Effect was important.
“Last year was pretty tough with all the COVID stuff, it was a bit hard to get out into the community with all the restrictions,” Mr Scott said.
“It’s a small city and they’re really big on their rugby league so it’s good just getting out there and connecting with the fans and the people of Canberra.
“It’s good giving back to people who are struggling,” he said.
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