Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is among scores of generous Victorians who have rushed to support the Les Twentyman Foundation after its collection of Christmas gifts was wiped out by fire.
The charity’s headquarters at the Little Saigon Market in Footscray was left “like a war zone” after a blaze tore through it on Tuesday.
About 150 Christmas presents donated for disadvantaged children and wrapped by volunteers were destroyed.
Victorians have since dug deep and donated toys, money and replacement school supplies, after more than 8000 text books also ruined.
Mr Shorten, who flew back from visiting Australia’s troops in Iraq on Tuesday morning, immediately hit the phones to drum up support for a lunch on Thursday.
Crown is hosting the event, with a three-course meal for 100 people including billionaire Lindsay Fox and architect Paul Gardiner, free of charge.
“Les is larger than life and he and his foundation do some remarkable things,” Mr Shorten said. “He’s a good mate with a great heart and I want to do everything I can to help.
“This fire wasn’t heartbreaking for Les and his team, it’s devastating for the thousands of young people who stand to miss out because of it.”
The foundation hosts an annual Christmas lunch where more than 400 presents are given to some of Melbourne’s most disadvantaged children.
Mr Twentyman said the generosity of those who had donated was “gobsmacking”.
“I’ve had people walk up to me in the street, people who haven’t got two bob to rub together, and thrust a $20 note into my hand,” he said.
HOW TO DONATE
Account Name: The Les Twentyman Foundation
Account Number: 481044038
More details: ltfoundation.com.au/donate
Large image: Jazzy-Jane Abas from the Les Twentyman Foundation with donated Christmas gifts after a fire destroyed the foundations headquarters in Footscray. Picture: Ian CurrieSource:News Limited