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Bundaberg ‘most generous town in Australia’

Mayor Jack Dempsey invited William Wheeler and mum Lauren to help switch on the Christmas lights after learning of the story of “William the Warrior” through a GoFundMe page.

The Bundaberg Region has been crowned the most generous town in Australia by GoFundMe after residents gave the most donations per person in 2020.

The region was up four places from last year in GoFundMe’s annual Year of Giving Report which measures the most generous towns based on the number of donations per capita.

Mayor Jack Dempsey welcomed the announcement, which he said proved what everyone who lives in the region already knows.

“We know we are a very caring and giving community and this latest data shows, statistically, that the Bundaberg Region is caring for people that are disadvantaged and understand the importance of giving to others,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“Christmas is all about giving and the Bundaberg Region certainly has that in bucketloads which is exhibited by these latest figures from GoFundMe.”

Young Olivia Sologinkin has suffered from severe eczema her entire life

Four-year-old Olivia Sologinkin was one local resident on the receiving end of the famed Bundaberg Region generosity.

After years of watching young Olivia contend with severe eczema, constant pain and skin infections, her mother Jill Harrison turned to GoFundMe for help.

Suffering from the skin condition since she was just four weeks old, Olivia has never experienced a normal childhood and is unable to play outside or attend school.

The family shared her story with a target of raising $60,000 which would secure Olivia treatment at the Avène Hydrotherapy Centre in France, a world-renowned medical centre.

Olivia Sologinkin is finding short-lived moments of respite thanks to constant management and having relocated to Bundaberg in 2018 to be by the beach which is her “safe space”.

Jill and the family were “blown away by the generosity and love” with 242 donors raising a total of $24,565 towards the target.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the outpouring of generosity that has happened from the GoFundMe campaign,” Jill said.

“For us, the big thing was, we were super private about our suffering.

“We didn’t really share much about how hard it’s been all the way along.

“By going really public with this GoFundMe was daunting but the result was phenomenal.”

The campaign had raised enough money for Olivia’s first treatment in France when COVID hit.

“When and if we are allowed to travel again, we are going to be ready to book,” Jill said.

For now, Olivia is finding short-lived moments of respite thanks to constant management and having relocated to Bundaberg in 2018 to be by the beach which is her “safe space”.

The generosity shown to Olivia is part of a nationwide trend which has seen community fundraiser donations double.

Similarly, the local community dug deep at the start of the year with Big Al’s Fight.

Al was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma and the campaign raised more than $21,000 so that he could continue with treatment, which he has been responding well to.

GoFundMe recognises Bundaberg generosity

GoFundMe Australia Regional Manager Nicola Britton said 2020 wasn’t the first time Bundaberg had been recognised for its generosity, taking out spot number five in the 2019 rankings.

“It’s fantastic to see Bundaberg getting behind their local community,” Nicola said.

“In Bundaberg we’re actually seeing the top six raising campaigns – the campaigns that raised the most – three of them are for medical campaigns.

“It’s like a virtual show of support or act of compassion or kindness.

“One thing we are seeing is the power of close-knit communities is shining through.

“The top five out of 10 most generous towns this year are all regional towns.

“I think Bundaberg is one of those close-knit communities.”

The top GoFundMe campaigns for Bundaberg in 2020:

GoFundMe’s 2020 Year in Giving Report revealed that everyday Aussies stepped up in record numbers to get behind their local community.

An impressive 1.3 million donations were made, a 30 per cent uptick compared to the previous year.

The Bundaberg community was also touched recently by the story of brave William Wheeler, known as William the Warrior, smashing the family’s $500 fundraising target to raise $15,965.

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