Two weeks after horrific bushfires hit the Kinglake region, leaving mass devastation in their wake, the community wanted a chance to come together as one.

While the adults wanted a chance to reconnect, grieve their losses and celebrate their lives, they wanted the children of their community to find an opportunity to smile again.

Supporting the great work that Westpac had already been doing in the region, m.a.d.woman put out the call to help create a party atmosphere for several hundred of the community’s children.

m.a.d.woman was set up to encourage, inspire and enable people to make a positive difference in the community, environment and to the lives of people who need support. Helping the people of Kinglake provided the perfect opportunity to put this into action.

Within 48 hours of the call, m.a.d.woman received extremely generous donations of gifts for children, home made treats including 200 individually iced cupcakes, hundreds of chocolate crackles, honey joys, biscuits and coconut ice and had a host of special performers ready to amuse the region’s youngsters. A jumping castle and fairy floss machine rounded off the mobile amusement unit.

On Saturday morning, the team and all our booty boarded the Westpac Volunteer Bus and began a journey from Whittlesea to Kinglake. Despite having seen extensive media coverage of the fires and their aftermath, nothing could have prepared us for the enormity of the devastation.

After a very sombre journey, the team rallied on arriving at the outdoor venue and joined a small local Westpac team to begin preparing showbags for several hundred children. Donations from the Army and local businesses helped further fill our goody bags, which were crammed full of confectionery, activities and toys.

The line for the jumping castle was at least 30 deep for several hours as little kids and older kids alike got bouncing.  More than 500 sticks of fairy floss were twirled and about 1000 goody-bags handed out.

Face painters brought decorations to the faces of youngsters, and smiles to the faces of parents. Members of the m.a.d.woman contingent made personalised bracelets for children, twirled hula hoops, made balloon animals and entertained through various other means.

As the sun began to set, we wound our way back down to Whittlesea leaving the community to a night of hugs, tears, smiles and even some laughter.

There were so many generous individuals and businesses and volunteers who worked tirelessly both before and during the day to bring this special event together, so thanks to them collectively (and individually) for their selfless contributions and for proving that by connecting together, we can make a meaningful difference.