Don?s pretty good with help

TWO days a week Don MacKenzie is passing out food to people not able to afford to buy their own.

A member of St Vincent de Paul's welfare section on Alma Street, Mr MacKenzie is one of about 20 people who provide food for an average of 120 to 160 people a week.

"A lot of people don't realise there is so much poverty,'' he said.

"The main thing with people is that not everyone has the same IQ, others just can't manage money and others just don't have money.''

Besides a package of food, people who go to Mr MacKenzie for help will always find a kind word.

"Just a few kind words can transform their face.

"For some of the people who come here, we're the only people they talk to in a week.''

Mr MacKenzie sees a wide cross section of life every day he volunteers from the homeless, to youth, families, disabled pensioners, travellers, refugees and people passing through looking for work.

"We get a tremendous amount of families and we seem to be spreading further afield,'' he said.

People come in from Bajool, Duaringa, Ridgelands, Yaamba, Mount Morgan and Moura.

"This year will be our biggest year ever,'' for the number of people seeking help.

"Some people have properties and can't work them because they don't have enough money.''

Mr MacKenzie said the welfare side of St Vincent de Paul has seen a 20% increase in calls for help so far this year.

And they expect to have given away $200,000 worth of food by the end of the year.

"When you think about it it's scary.

"And when you add on to it what we give away from the Gladstone Road clothes and furniture store, we could be in excess of $500,000.''

For the five years Mr MacKenzie has been volunteering to help relieve the pinch of poverty the problem has got progressively worse.

"In the last two years it's gone through the roof.''

The good news is: "Rockhampton people are pretty good when it comes to charity,'' Mr MacKenzie said.

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