Donating to Bellinger River hospital, one plastic bottle at a time

Kerrie Nichol with a big bag of plastic bottles which are off to the Return & Earn machine in Bellingen.


BELLINGEN UHA (United Hospital Auxiliaries of NSW) branch member Kerrie Nicol is one of the volunteers who goes above and beyond to support Bellinger River District Hospital.

Her efforts focus on collecting bottles and cashing them in to add to the Auxiliary’s generous support of the Hospital and its patients.

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“Basically, I saw an opportunity to raise money for the Pinkies (the UHA) when the refund on the bottles became an option, rather than them going into landfill,” Kerrie said.

“The support of the hospital’s kitchen and cleaning staff in collecting and bagging the bottles has been exceptional.

“I probably spend four hours a week collecting and poking them in the Return and Earn machine.”

Kerrie’s efforts through the Return and Earn scheme raised $2,398 for the Auxiliary to July this year.

Kerrie also collects dockets redeemable from the Bellingen IGA and hands them over to the Auxiliary as part of IGA’s Community Chest program.

“These funds are used to help purchase equipment for the Hospital,” said the Auxiliary’s President Deb Anderson.

“Kerrie is a highly valued member of the Auxiliary, and we thank her, and her supporters, for such a champion effort.”

Waveney Ayscough works in the kitchen with Kerrie, beginning her journey “under Kerrie’s wing”, she told News Of The Area.

“I am inspired by how selfless Kerrie is, her work with the SES, and the effort it takes to collect and process the bottles.

“I had breast cancer this year and she always called to support me or take me out for a chat.

“You can often see her, after her shift, collecting the bags of bottles in the wards and in the kitchen and piling these huge bags into her car to take to the Return and Earn depot.”

The UHA also runs a café, Mary’s Tea House, at the Hospital.

The popular cafe opens three days a week, “But we hope to attract enough volunteers to be able to open five days a week, as it benefits the staff, patients and visitors, and ultimately the hospital,” Waveney said.

“A common misconception is that one needs to be retired, or a ‘little old lady’ to volunteer.

“We welcome women and men of all ages.

“It’s been wonderful for me as I have met a lot of people who are very active in our community, people I wouldn’t normally meet being a mum of school-aged children.”



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