Rikki Cooke: Treasure Boxes: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

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Rikki Cooke: Treasure Boxes: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Virtuous circle grows out of a challenging foster-care experience

Passionate. Dedicated. Kind

Social worker Rikki Cooke was spurred into action when four emergency foster children arrived at her home without any necessities.

She started a charity, Treasure Boxes, that provides clothing, toys, car seats and other items to families escaping domestic violence or to children going into foster care.

That was in 2015. At first, it was a humble contribution towards filling a big need.

However, this year has been a turning point, with the charity growing five-fold and distributing seven hundred thousand dollars’ worth of goods in the first eight months.

“We are certainly becoming a larger organisation,” says Rikki, who feels honoured to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It’s an incredible privilege to know that people are supporting our charity. It’s a lovely feeling.”

The charity provides mostly donated items to over eighty agencies. These include domestic violence shelters, poverty support, refugee support, drug and alcohol support, child protection, Aboriginal support and family support services.

“By marrying up giving with receiving, we are creating an avenue for compassion, change and optimism for children and their families who desperately need a hand up,” says Rikki.

She shares a story about a woman who donated one thousand dollars: “Four years ago we gave her some items after she had left her husband because of domestic violence. She promised herself that when she was back on her feet she would donate back to support other women experiencing domestic violence.

That meant a lot to us and showed us the impact of what we are doing is life-changing at times.”

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.

Treasure Boxes will use its grant to engage a specialist to coordinate a large-scale fundraising event aimed at bringing in $30,000 and boosting awareness about the charity.

“Most of the money will be used to buy goods and to expand our operations.

We constantly run out of cots and car seats, so we have to buy them new because the demand is outweighing the donated supply,” says Rikki.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.

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