Spreading the Good Stuff for The Kyabram Gift…

If you have ever doubted the power of community spirit then meet Liz Dillon. She’ll challenge anyone who doesn’t believe country towns are the heart and soul of our country, and it’s not hard to understand why.

In her small community of Kyabram and the surrounding districts, Liz and her army of volunteers, have raised almost a quarter of a million dollars to help families in the local area directly impacted by cancer.

Liz is the epitome of community spirit: kind, passionate and generous, and has a ‘can do’ attitude. She has built a career teaching vocals and performing arts to kids at Dillmac Entertainment and after years fundraising for Redkite, a national charity providing support to children with cancer, she realised there were people within her own community battling cancer and in need of financial and emotional support.

“One year we handed over a cheque to Redkite for $84,000 and I suddenly thought: wouldn’t it be better if the money could stay in the town?” Liz said.

Coinciding with the sudden loss of her father-in-law to cancer, she decided it was time to take action, and with the support of her husband Max McKenzie and colleague Andrew Moore, the Kyabram Gift was born.

Six years later, The Gift is a fully incorporated, tax-deductible fund with a board and subcommittee of 14 members and countless volunteers who generously donate their time to assist at key events. Through unwavering community support The Gift raises approximately $150,000 annually, and has now raised in excess of $450,000 since its inception.


The Gift board represents a wide sector of the community and is made up of business owners; parents; youths; professionals; doctors and nurses; people who have had cancer or lost loved ones to cancer; people who are new to the area; and life-long locals. And all are united in the purpose to lighten the load of others.

This inspiring organisation’s winning formula for fundraising includes set events throughout the year that encourage involvement from the entire community, not only to raise money but to increase awareness of early cancer detection and provide fun and connection for people in an otherwise dark time.

The highlight on The Gift social calendar is the annual Gala Ball. More than 350 people attended this year’s event in November, and it has become so popular there is now a ballot for tickets! Eight people also volunteered to lose their locks for the cause and ran their own fundraising campaign throughout the year. Combined with the proceeds from ticket sales and auctions on the night a staggering $60,000 was raised.

The ever popular, Monster Town Garage Sale encourages people to host a site at their house and sell unwanted good with all proceeds going to The Gift. This year’s Monster Garage Sale will be held in Kyabram on December 3, so why not go for a Sunday drive, see what goodies you can find and help support this worthy cause.

Other key events include the Purple Weekend and Purple Sporting Weekend, where local schools, workplaces, businesses, shopping precincts and sporting clubs in the district are encouraged to decorate their premises, wear purple and raise money anyway they can.

To maintain momentum, The Gift is constantly looking for new ways to fundraise and also uses movie nights, Easter raffles and other minor events throughout the year to ensure there is always money in the bank for emergencies and to help those who really need it – when they need it.

“The community has really embraced The Gift and we now service a population of approximately 22,000 including Kyabram, Tongala, Girgarre, Stanhope, Undera, Rushworth, Merrigum and Lancaster,” Liz said.

“We have developed a fantastic working relationship with Kyabram District Health, its team of amazing district nurses and the local counseling services to try and capture all those who need our support,” she said.

People can be referred to the service or an application form is available to anyone who wishes to apply directly for funds. Elected members of the board then decide who receives the gifts based on individual needs.

The gifts are always given in the form of a voucher, product or payment of a utility or other bill. Cash is never handed to any recipient and names of recipients are kept confidential.

To date, The Gift has supported more than 100 families providing items such as:

  • grocery vouchers
  • fuel vouchers
  • holiday vouchers
  • utility bills
  • specialty bras for breast cancer patients
  • school fees
  • funeral expenses
  • rent and mortgage payments
  • vouchers for Christmas gifts
  • medical expenses
  • counseling services
  • mechanic bills

“With the support of some great local tradies and businesses who have given their support and volunteered their time for free, we have even renovated a bathroom and built and furnished a granny flat to provide safe and comfortable spaces for families with members undergoing treatment.”

Not only does The Gift provide financial and emotional support but it also provides hope.

“We all know the pain and suffering a cancer diagnosis can bring to a family so we try not to focus on what it takes from people but rather what it can give,” Liz said.

‘We wish we didn’t have to help anyone else but there are still so many positives you can take away from the experience – the kindness and generosity of people, new friendships and learnings about yourself and others,” she said.

Sometimes just knowing that someone else cares can be the greatest gift of all.

For more information about The Gift or to offer your support, visit the website at www.thegift.co or email support@thegift.co or contact 0455 535 247.



#spreadingthegoodstuff #thekyabramgift #supportingfamilieswithcancer #thepowerofcommunity