Kirsty Mason: Dandelion Support Network
Kirsty bounces back from cancer to support families in need
When Kirsty Mason was told her breast cancer was in remission, she had a strong desire to give back.
“I just got this sense of wanting to be involved in the community,” she says.
That’s how she became involved in the Dandelion Foundation, a charity that distributes pre-owned babies and children’s clothes, toys, cots, prams, car seats and other items to families in need.
Kirsty volunteers for 15 hours a week as the toys and linen manager, leading a team who sort through mountains of items to check for quality and suitability. They also clean the toys and make up packs for distribution via social workers.
Every year the organisation diverts at least 40 tonnes from landfill through rehoming, or recycling of goods that are not suitable to give away.
Kirsty says the recipients might be refugee families, people with physical disabilities or mental illness or be homeless or starting from scratch after leaving an abusive relationship.
One of the main aims is to ease the financial burden of these families, which in turn is likely to reduce stress and help parents feel more confident in raising their children.
Another focus is to ensure children are sleeping safely.
“We’ve had babies sleeping in boxes and on the floor on a pile of towels because they haven’t had a bed,” says Kirsty.
During her time at Dandelion Kirsty had her second son. She took only a brief break from volunteering and, with her baby on her hip, continued her work.
Kirsty often brings both her children with her as she feels it is important that they understand the importance of helping those less fortunate than themselves.
One heart-warming experience for the volunteers was when a woman who they had helped four years previously returned to make a donation of her own.
Kirsty is delighted to be voted a Westfield Local Hero and to be recognised by her community.
The cost of each support pack is about $130, so Dandelion will use its $10,000 Westfield grant to help more than 75 disadvantaged families. It will also allow the network to include a few unused items.