It all started on the physiotherapy treatment table a couple of weeks ago.
Lucy Forbes, owner of Active Therapies in Bowral, was treating Campbelltown City Council general manager Lindy Deitz, who lives in the Southern Highlands.
Forced to work from home as the people in Campbelltown endure a long and miserable lockdown, Ms Deitz told Ms Forbes about families and individuals her crisis team had met whose mental health was rapidly deteriorating.
"Sydney's been locked down for so long - I just wanted to do something," said Ms Forbes.
"I told her that I have a lot of patients who would want to help."
From that conversation, the seed of an idea was planted.
After consulting with her own staff and then those at Destination Southern Highlands' Mittagong Information Centre, who jumped at the chance, Ms Forbes and her team sent out a call out to their patients for donations.
The aim was to put hampers together of beautiful Highlands produce that could then be delivered to those most in need of a treat in Campbelltown.
"We emailed patients at 2.20pm on the Friday (September 3) and by 5pm had 100 people donating $75 for each hamper," said Ms Forbes.
"By Monday it was 150. Now we're looking at making up 200 of them."
All the money was used to purchase local goods, which solved another COVID-related problem.
"We wanted to support local producers here who've had to shut their doors and are struggling, so it keeps money in the area," said Ms Forbes.
"That gift was then able to go to people who needed it in Campbelltown."
Two truckloads have already been delivered, along with a dose of happiness and hope to those who have needed it most.
"The first hamper was delivered and both the recipient and the person delivering it burst into tears," said Ms Forbes, who wanted to thank her hardworking staff and those of Destination Southern Highlands, as well as the generosity of her patients.
"One patient rang and said 'This is wonderful - I want to give 10!'" she said.
"The team have been working tirelessly to get them out, which means local businesses are benefitting and community members who need it most have been given a helping hand."
Ms Deitz said she was deeply touched by the action.
"It's heart-warming to see the generosity of our neighbours in the Southern Highlands, who have reached out during this difficult time to support some of the most vulnerable in our community," she said.
For more information, including how to donate or purchase a hamper for yourself, contact the team at Destination Southern Highlands on phone 02 4871 2888 or www.visitsouthernhighlands.com.au
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