A man from Mandurah, Australia, who donated his old car to help Yarloop residents after bushfires devastated the local community, has inspired a spate of car donations from other civic-minded members of the public.
Aaron Latham’s generosity led to a total of 20 vehicles being given away to needy families.
Latham’s old Land Cruiser had been put up for sale on Gumtree, but seeing the damage caused by rampant bushfires focused his attention toward what he could do to help those in need.
Latham made the decision to amend his Gumtree ad and offer the car for free to a Yarloop resident in need. His white Land Cruiser was eventually donated to a Yarloop musician who had lost all his personal and professional possessions in the fires.
Speaking to WAToday Latham said, “I sat there thinking, do I really need $2,000 to pay off a bill here and there when I would struggle again in a few months anyway? Or can I afford to make a little bit of a difference? The Land Cruiser was just sitting in my garage. It’s a great car – we were just gonna sell it off to not have it sitting around doing nothing. I could sell it for $2,000 or change someone’s life.”
Latham has also been administering the Southwest Bushfire Donations Facebook page and when he posted a call-out to others who were also prepared to donate a vehicle, he received a huge response and thousands of shares, and through the power of social media eventually arranged for over donated 20 cars to go to families and individuals who were need as a result of the bushfires.
“I’ve got Mazdas, Holden Commodores, Falcon wagons… I’ve got an Audi A3 that’s about to rock up at my house now — I’m taking it to a lady in Bunburry,” Latham said.
One Yarloop man who was the recipient of a donated car tragically lost absolutely everything to the bushfires: his house, his car, his dog, and his two friends who died in the fires.
Another recipient had bravely fought beside a stranger to protect her house, even after his own house had been burnt to the ground. The woman he helped was able to repay him in a small way with a donated car.
“I was able to give back to him, a man so deserving, a stranger to me four days ago a man that stood and fought 45 hrs in the fire and helped save five houses whilst his burnt to the ground. In my eyes he’s a hero and a man I’ll never forget I hope he loves his new car and I’m so happy I’ve made a difference to his life.”
The generosity from within the community went beyond simply donating the free cars, as concerned residents offered to pay registration, mechanical costs to repair any damaged parts and also for transportation of the vehicles across Australia to those in the affected regions.
“They are just generally people with an old car they don’t use anymore. They are all roadworthy, pretty much all the people are from Perth or down south and offering to deliver them. I am picking up two cars tomorrow and taking them down south tomorrow if all goes according to plan. People referred me to the victims without them knowing, so last night I was able to make two phone calls to two Yarloop residents to say I had cars for them and that was amazing. I am just a keyboard warrior but I was able to connect people.”
Authorities in Australia have also encouraged people who want to help the bushfire victims to do so via the Official Distress Relief Fund.
[Images via Southwest Bushfire Donations Facebook Page]