COVID-19 has not stopped Tomago Aluminium’s workforce from continuing its vital fundraising program supporting Hunter-based charities.   

An employee initiative that has been active for more than 30 years, the Tomago Workplace Giving Fund has raised more than two million dollars for local charities and is not slowing down, pandemic or otherwise.

The Fund’s most recent recipients are Soul Café, Carrie’s Place, Got Your back Sista and headspace Newcastle, each receiving $10,500, a quarter-share of a total of $42,000 raised by Tomago Aluminium’s workforce and matched dollar-for-dollar by its management.

Tomago Aluminium’s Communications Advisor, Katie Burns, said “Traditionally we have a morning tea onsite and invite charity representatives and our employees to attend but because of the necessary COVID-19 precautions we had two morning tea presentations a week apart and, because of social distancing, only had a small group of people at each one. 

“While we were unable to encourage people to gather, we were able to give the money to the groups who need it and that was the most important thing for us,” Ms Burns said.

Thanking the Tomago Workplace Giving Fund for its donation, Got Your Back Sista founder and chief executive, Melissa Histon, said their small, self-funded organisation relies on fundraising, grants and community generosity to help women and children escape domestic violence and restart their lives.

“The funds donated by Tomago will be able to provide furniture and household items such as beds, white goods and linen to women who have fled a violent home and are moving into their new homes, safe from violence,” Ms Histon said.

Soul Café, a community-funded charity, provides more than 40,000 meals annually to vulnerable people in Newcastle and also helps with a broad range of support services including laundry, mental health, medical services, Centrelink contact, housing and legal support.

Karen McKenzie, Carrie’s Place Specialist Domestic Violence Program manager, said Tomago’s substantial donation will help create a functional and welcoming community space at its East Maitland headquarters so those using it can be comfortable and freely utilise resources.

Accepting Tomago Workplace Giving Fund’s $10,500 donation, headspace Newcastle’s Byron Williams said the group relies on community support to deliver quality programs and projects to young people in Newcastle and its surrounding areas.

“The generous support of Tomago will allow us to connect with and support young people who may be struggling during this pandemic,” Mr Williams said.

This year’s presentations coincided with a name change for Tomago Aluminium’s charity program from the Out-of-Pay Donation Scheme to the Tomago Workplace Giving Fund.

Wayne Pringle, Australian Workers’ Union Site delegate said the name change was the only change and was done to stimulate, rather than stymie, employee support.

 “Tomago Aluminium’s management and employees take great pride in giving back to the community by supporting worthwhile causes and through the Tomago Workplace Giving Fund we have the opportunity to make a substantial amount of money available to some very worthy causes. This year, our goal is to encourage more members to the fund and increase our annual donation amount - we can always do better!”

“Here at Tomago Aluminium we have a great culture of giving back to our community and it is something we will continue to foster,” Ms Burns said.

“Everyone at Tomago is happy to get behind these hardworking community groups because we believe that, with just a small weekly donation from our pay packets, we can really make a difference.

“Every employee is encouraged to contribute and every year the money is divided between local charities, with employees nominating and voting to decide which groups will be supported each year,” she added.

Tomago’s fundraising efforts have helped more than 40 charities over the past 30 years, donating over two million to local charities, including $1 million to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. It was also a strong supporter of drought-stricken farmers during the ‘Buy A Bale’ campaign, donating $50,000 and raised an additional $50,000 for local Rural Fire Service brigades in the wake of the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.

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