A BORDER charity that helped thousands get back on their feet is winding up this month.
Restart Albury Wodonga will stop sourcing and distributing household items for the homeless and needy in the region after seven years.
Its charitable mission was complicated by the global pandemic, border closures and restrictions.
Restart Albury Wodonga co-ordinator Tara Fellowes said the outcome was a sign of the times but she felt grateful the small band of volunteers had helped many Border residents.
She said clients included a mother-of-five who had lost her home and was cut off from her money and an 18-year-old who had never been given a Christmas present in his life.
"One mum came home to find it all locked up and the family bank accounts drained," she said.
"She had five children and she was very ashamed of the position she found herself in.
"When she came to see us her head was down and she didn't want to ask for help.
"But as it turned out she ended up donating back to Restart!"
Restart Albury Wodonga has been collecting and distributing household items for homeless and needy people on the Border and beyond since May 2015.
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A Wodonga resident, Ms Fellowes joined the fold during 2016.
She said what started as a service to help foster children going into a new home was widened to help many in the community.
"All of the items were donated for linen packs, kitchen items, bathroom and toiletries for individuals and families and cleaning packs to maintain homes," Ms Fellowes said.
"We reached 5500 people over the years with referrals coming from YES Unlimited, Centre Against Violence, Wellways and the Salvos."
Ms Fellowes said it was a tough decision to wind up the service this month.
She said the Summer Bushfire Crisis 2019-2020 and the global pandemic had tested the volunteer service.
"Understandably, we didn't get any support after the bushfires," she said.
"When donations started coming in again we weren't sure if we could take them and redistribute them because of COVID-19.
"We had a warehouse on one side of the border and I live on the other, which was complicated by the border closure."
A mum-of-four, Ms Fellowes said home learning was another ball to juggle.
"It's been a really hard decision for me," she said.
"My hope is that someone else will pick up this work.
"I have faith in the services we have on the Border."
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