New space needed for Rotary firewood project

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It's in the bag . . . With some of the firewood that has been bagged and is ready to distribute are (from left) Andrew Rosanowski of the Salvation Army, Tony Henderson of the Timaru Rotary Club and John O'Neill of St Vincent de Paul. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

by Claire Allison

Timaru Rotary Club members will be keeping Timaru families warm this winter, but they need help to ensure the club doesn’t get left out in the cold.

For the past year, club members have been sawing up offcuts from a Timaru furniture factory and have an estimated 1000 bags of firewood to provide to families in need, through the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and Family Works.

Firewood project co-ordinator Tony Henderson said club members collected offcuts each week and held a working bee to cut it and bag it, ready for distribution.

“It’s now a year-round operation for us, and means we can get ahead and work when the weather is more pleasant.”

The club has had the use of Don George’s Topcut Firewood shed in Rothwell St since September, which has proved ideal, offering drive-on access, covered premises to cut up the offcuts and bag it, and ample storage space.

“But Don’s got it on the market, and we know we have to move reasonably soon, so we’re needing to find a suitable venue to house the wood and hold working bees.

“We’ve exhausted all our contacts, and will get to the stage where it’s desperate. Ideally, we’d like an old warehouse that we could drive into to unload, and that’s dry and secure. Power would be an advantage, but not essential, because we can run generators.”

Representatives from the organisations that distribute the bagged firewood said the Rotary project was definitely meeting a need.

St Vincent de Paul shop committee chairman John O’Neill said the Rotary-provided wood was ideal.

“Dry wood is an annual problem for many people we deal with, and this stuff’s brilliantly dry. Quite often we deal with people who are in need of wood now, not later on.”

Mr O’Neill said St Vincent de Paul had long been involved with splitting and distributing wood, and this would be a welcome addition to help meet local needs.

Salvation Army manager of community ministries Andrew Rosanowski said the firewood was a real help for its clients.

“Firewood is an issue . . . So this is a real help, because heating costs bite the budget.”