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Couple's Fijian wedding gift list becomes community haul

IN THE BAG: Kieron Simpson, Jackson Smith, Mitch O’Maley and Lisa Young with some of the toys, clothes and sporting goods they will take to Fiji to help cyclone affected residents.
IN THE BAG: Kieron Simpson, Jackson Smith, Mitch O’Maley and Lisa Young with some of the toys, clothes and sporting goods they will take to Fiji to help cyclone affected residents. Chris Ison Rokcelope

WEDDINGS are usually all about the bride and groom, but for Mitch O'Maley and Lisa Young the day will also be about giving back.

The Yeppoon high school sweethearts will tie the knot on a Fijian beach this month, but have spent the last week organising donations for a community that was devastated by Cyclone Winston.

The Category 5 monster cyclone struck Fiji on February 20 and destroyed up to 90% of structures in the hardest hit areas.

The disaster's death toll has climbed to 43 people.

Mitch, who said he was excited for the ceremony after the couple had spent the last decade together, was thrilled by the willingness of the Central Queensland community to help those who were left devastated by Winston.

The 25-year-old put out a call for donations on Facebook and within one hour had too many offers to handle.

"We have visited before... last time we took footballs but this time I thought we would take more. We can't take enough to make up for what they have lost but we can make it easier for them," he said.

"We have that much stuff that we are going out to buy another suitcase now.

"It's a very generous community we have here."

Mitch said he had received donations of clothes and toys and even had the man who restocks the local "claw machines" drop off two garbage bags full of items.

Lisa was also surprised by the volume of donations, but was confident her 50 plus guests would be more than capable of sharing the load through the airport.

"I was very sad when I heard the news of the devastation, this could not happen to more beautiful people," she said.

"We will visit a couple of the villages while we are over there."

Topics:  cyclone winston, fiji, fiji wedding, lisa young, mitch o'maley




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