SA children charity’s warehouse call

A South Australian charity which supports children in emergency care has asked for help to find a new warehouse amid fears it will not be able to remain open.

Mar 05, 2024, updated Mar 05, 2024
Backpacks 4 SA kids provides essential items to children and young people in emergency care. Photo: Backpacks 4 SA kids

Backpacks 4 SA kids provides essential items to children and young people in emergency care. Photo: Backpacks 4 SA kids

Backpacks 4 SA Kids is an independent charity funded by corporate teams and public donations, but founder Rachael Zaltron told InDaily that if the group does not secure a larger warehouse within two years its future is unclear.

“We’ve been listed in one of the top five crisis response charities in South Australia, but at this point we just cannot guarantee we’re going to be here in a few years’ time if we don’t find that warehouse,” she said.

The charity currently leases two warehouses with a main one at Para Hills West, but Zaltron said a larger central warehouse is needed.

“[It] needs to be between 1500 and 2000 square metres, and in the northern region so that we can keep our volunteer base,” she said.

Backpacks 4 SA Kids has 2500 registered volunteers registered with 120 coming in each week, and three staff.

Zaltron said the charity was “open to any discussion” regarding options for a warehouse.

“We have around $400,000 that has been put away, donated specifically for warehousing from corporate businesses in South Australia,” she said.

“We have a range of businesses offering their services… people that are willing to do construction, electricity, plumbing, surveying, conveyancing.

“We could be looking for land and then just build a shed. We’re literally in a tin shed and we don’t have a problem with that, because we want the money to be directed towards the kids.”

Warehouse prices around Adelaide are not all readily available, but the average annual leasing price of a warehouse of that size in the southern suburbs was $150,000.

The charity also recently received an $8000 grant from the Department of Human Services as part of their social impact grants for smaller not-for-profits, the second round of which opens for applications today.

That amount was used to purchase further workplace health and safety equipment, but Zaltron said more support was needed.

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“It’s going to be essential that at some point we receive some sort of help from our community,” she said.

Backpacks 4 SA Kids recently received an $8000 grant from the Department of Human Services which was used to purchase new equipment, including new tables. Photo: supplied

Backpacks 4 SA Kids have supported 95,000 children since it began 11 years ago, with an expected 6500 backpacks filled with essential items to be delivered this year.

“The idea is that we reduce a little bit of the stress and anxiety that our kids endure when they’re in that point of ‘I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t have a home, I’m being moved to strangers’,” Zaltron said.

“There’s a lot of fear and anxiety that sits around all of that, let alone that nine out of 10 of them leave with just the clothes on their backs. They don’t have the simple things like underwear, toiletries.

“Having to ask people for basic things that we all kind of take for granted…It’s about giving them something that they can control.”

Zaltron said while she was “incredibly proud” that the charity had been able to help so many children, it was bittersweet.

“The other side of it is it is absolutely heartbreaking our community in South Australia, which is such a beautiful, positive, engaging community, has that many kids that need help,” she said.

“[Kids] that need someone to care about them, need them to let them know that we’re proud of them, because they never hear those sort of words, and have that sort of engagement on a consistent basis.

“It’s a massive proud moment with absolute heartbreak on the other side of it.”

Zaltron is set to appear on the panel at South Australian Business Chamber’s International Women’s Day event this week as she continues working to keep the charity running long-term.

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