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Helping our hungry and homeless

07 March 2011

As winter set in and we began cranking our heaters, chucking on layers and filling our tummies with nourishing foods, my thoughts turned to those who don't have the same options - more than 105,000 Australians (including the unacceptable number of 34,000 children) who do it tough on our streets.

From both an individual and business point of view, I wanted to do something to help.

My first challenge was late in June when I joined 115 other CEOs in Melbourne for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout at Etihad Stadium. It involved a freezing night *sleeping* (I don't think anyone managed to) on cardboard boxes to raise awareness and funds for homeless people. We had the luxury of sleeping bags, layers of clothing and in particular, the security of knowing our personal safety was not at risk. The same can't be said for those on our streets and it's a situation that needs changing.

After an appearance on Channel Ten's The Circle the morning before the sleepout, I was blown away to receive a donation of $10,000 towards my participation - bringing the total raised by m.a.d.woman supporters for the event to nearly $13,000!

Our next challenge was ensuring we could find equal numbers of single men and women in Melbourne and Sydney to Cook for a Cause. A week after the CEO Sleepout, we held the second Feed Melbourne Singles event followed by our first Feed Sydney Singles event with food rescue charities Fareshare and OzHarvest. In Melbourne 250 singles cooked nearly 10,000 meals, with 150 matching and around $18,000 raised. In Sydney, our guest host Sarah Wilson joined us as 150 singles cooked 5200 meals, with 52 matching and raising around $9000. Money from the nights will fund the collection, storage and distribution of food for hungry and homeless in Victoria and New South Wales.

While I know I can't help every person doing it tough, it does make me sleep a little easier knowing I have at least contributed to helping improve the lives of some of our nation's most vulnerable.

Melina Schamroth is the Founder and CEO of m.a.d.woman, author of How to be m.a.d. (making a difference) and m.a.d. (making a difference) in a green way. She established singles events Single Volunteers and runs corporate team building events that make a difference. You can read more at www.madwoman.com.au

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