On Anzac Day last year, a new community initiative honoured Illawarra residents who served their country.
After the inaugural 'Anzac Day Illawarra Digger Drop Off' was a success in 2020, organisers hope to make it even bigger this year.
Last year, a team of about 300 volunteers delivered 1050 personalised 'respect packages' to those throughout the region who have served (or their families), in conflicts ranging from World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The hampers contained donated or heavily discounted items such as local light beers or a shandy, two rolls of toilet paper, a freshly cooked lunch and more.
The initiative was launched by East Corrimal community advocate Leigh Stewart, who wished to acknowledge those who had served, but who couldn't attend public Anzac Day events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative was conducted with assistance from various Illawarra RSL Sub-Branches, and groups such as Vietnam Veterans' Association and Legacy.
"The tears were flowing... I genuinely believe for me it was the most special day I have been involved in, in over 30 years of community service," Mr Stewart said.
While last year's project only started less than a week prior to Anzac Day, Mr Stewart said an advisory group was formed on how to continue this initiative into the future, with Digger Drop Off now an official entity bound by a constitution, and a board of directors.
He said they hoped to distribute more respect packages this year, and perhaps reach areas such as Nowra and Goulburn.
Mr Stewart said members of the public could donate, or purchase a package for someone who has served.
He said they were also seeking volunteers to distribute the respect packages.
More details: www.diggerdropoff.com.au.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.