Small Vietnamese community's big give

MERCURY SERIES - Making A Difference

Christmas got a little better for people in need this week when Wollongong's Vietnamese community raised $22,310 at an appeal dinner in Dapto for victims of the NSW bushfires and typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Within days of raising the money at the event attended by many of the city's 500-strong Vietnamese community, the proceeds were handed to the St Vincent de Paul Society for people most in need.

Teresa Tran, of Teresa Tran & Associates, said the money was raised with the help of the Indochinese Aged Group in Wollongong.

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Mrs Tran said the group was made up of pensioners but they still made a significant contribution.

"Quan Tran raised more than $4000 for our dinner by working very hard and knocking on doors," she said.

And young members of the community, such as Chris Tran, waited tables for free.

Even the Vietnamese band and dancers performed for free and the Vietnamese caterer from Sydney donated all her profits.

"Although we are only a small group we try to do our bit to make a positive contribution to this region as much as we can," Mrs Tran said.

"We think it is very important to help when and where we can because we came here 30 years ago as refugees.

"We want to contribute as much as we can to show our gratitude to this country and the people of Australia who welcomed us three decades ago when we came here to escape from the communist regime.

"As former refugees we came here with nothing, just a set of clothes. Whenever there is a call for help, be it in Australia or overseas, we always try to help.

"We feel it is important to give back and contribute as much as we can and make a positive contribution to the region to show our appreciation.

"We only have a few hundred members but we donate a lot. To us this is a special Christmas gift to the people who are in need at this time."

Mrs Tran said the Vietnamese community had held many fund-raising events over the years.

"We raised money for the Queensland flood victims, the Victoria bushfire victims and the Japanese earthquake. Every time we raise more than $19,000 or $20,000. And the aged people collected their small change over 20 years and gave Wollongong Hospital $10,000 for new specialist geriatric beds."

St Vincent de Paul's Edna Wilson said most people in the Wollongong community would have no idea just how generous the Vietnamese community was and how much they had given to charity over the last three decades.

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