Tony Hickey is convinced that pound-for-pound Gold Coast businesspeople may be the most generous in Australia

Local businesses are digging deep to help Gold Coasters finding the forthcoming Christmas season a struggle

Friday, 28 November 2014

IT MAY be an educated guess but Tony Hickey is convinced that pound-for-pound Gold Coast businesspeople may be the most generous in Australia.

The high-profile lawyer is the chair of the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal for the Gold Coast, a post he has held for the past 14 years, and he said no matter how dreary the economic conditions local businesses always dug deep to support the Salvos.

He said after he was approached in about 2000 to take up the position and create a connection between the Salvation Army and business community, one of his first moves was to revamp the breakfast used to launch the appeal.

“The opening breakfast was very low-key when I took over and would attract about 60 to 90 people,” he said.

“We’ve grown that to 350 people and, along with some moving testimonials from people who have been touched by the Salvos, we’ve had guest speakers like Clive Palmer, Graham Richardson and Gerry Harvey.

“Over the past 10 years we raise on average $280,000 in a morning, our best was $320,000, and if that’s not a world record coming out of the supposedly financially and philanthropically challenged Gold Coast I don’t know what is.”

Mr Hickey said all the money raised on the Gold Coast for the Salvation Army was spent on the Gold Coast.

He said on a lot of occasions people were reluctant to donate money to charities because they were unsure of how much of it would reach its intended targets.

“The Salvos are visible and work at street level so you know the money is going to get there.”

Mr Hickey said the Salvation Army picked people out of the gutter and the best thing the business community could do was to give them the funds to continue their work.

“It’s a deficit appeal. If we don’t raise the money they can’t keep their services open and I think the business community really responds to that.

“The business community knows how fine that line is. Through the global financial crisis some formerly successful business people have ended up homeless.”

For more information on the Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal visit salvos.org.au/christmas/

Note: Original article from Gold Coast Bulletin

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