From GLIDE to Australia, with Love

by Ben Lintschinger, Volunteer Program Coordinator

Back in April of 2010, a 17 year old high school student named Olivia “Liv” McFarlane visited GLIDE from Australia and took back with her an infectious idea on how to help her community.

“I started up a program where people donate toiletries and my team of 4 girls pack them and deliver them to the soup kitchen in Adelaide called Westcare. This has gone a long way, way further then I thought it would,” explains Liv, who was inspired by the services she participated in while volunteering at GLIDE.
She visited GLIDE and as part of a Round Square international conference organized by the Athenian School, as a representative from Australia’s Westminster School of Adelaide.  Her group performed community service and learning activities which Liv recounts a strong impression from, “We were given $10 and set off in the Tenderloin to find food to feed a family of 4 for a week. This exercise really had an impact on me.”

After arriving home, Liv wanted to continue helping and saw her opportunity with providing Westcare Day Centre much-needed supplies for the people there. She got her friends involved to help run the project and began collecting donations. Her program receives most of its supplies from community members who donate their unused toiletries from hotels and airlines, as well as school families who buy toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and other necessities just to donate them. Recently, Liv took her program “to the skies” by giving QANTAS, Austrialia’s largest airline, a donation box in the airport’s staff lounge to gather the large amount of un-used airline hygiene products available.

Liv and her friends are now working with their Veteran’s Hospital on expanding their program and offering similar services to the people there.

“It has been a wonderful experience,” says Liv. “We all love hanging out together and we are great friends so it makes it easy to find time to pack the bags. The smiles we see on the faces when they receive the bags is just amazing, which makes us want to keep going back.”