March 19, 2020
Bushfire Relief isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when most people plan their 21st birthday party, but for Old Collegian Ruby Vidor (2016) the event was an unmissable opportunity to do her part for Mallacoota.

With 150 of Ruby’s friends invited to the party, she asked her guests to consider donating to a GoFundMe she’d created instead of bringing a gift. It was a gesture inspired by the feelings of helplessness she experienced, watching the bushfires rage in Australia while on an overseas trip.

“I guess I was inspired by others that were donating and sharing the disaster around to create awareness. I just really wanted to do something that came from me,” says Ruby.

Through her efforts, Ruby ended up raising over $6,000 with the generous help of family and friends – a number Ruby never imagined they’d reach.

I was overwhelmed with support from friends and family. I was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t receive any presents at my 21st because that meant everyone supported and respected my decision.”

Ruby was adamant that she wanted to donate the proceeds to MLC’s Student-Led Mallacoota Bushfire Appeal so she could be confident that she knew exactly where the funds were going. MLC facilitated the student-led fundraiser in the last week of February, raising over $21,000 for fire-affected communities in Mallacoota. The East Gippsland region holds a special significance to MLC families as the home of MLC Marshmead – a Year 9 camp program which sees students living completely off the grid, pressing pause on their regular studies to learn about sustainability and develop independence through farming their own vegetables and tending to livestock, for example.

Ruby attended MLC Marshmead back in 2014, and fondly remembers the life lessons she learned during those 8 weeks.

“Marshmead was a pivotal time in my life. It gave me a sense of independence and freedom,” says Ruby.

“At 15, I felt a bit lost and didn’t really know myself that well. Marshmead helped to push me outside of my comfort zone and taught me a lot about myself and the parts of myself that I needed to face; like my homesickness and developing independence. It also had a major impact on my health, I remember returning home and my mum just said I was totally glowing!”

Seeing students foster such a long-lasting connection to East Gippsland is a true testament to both the significance of the MLC Marshmead program and the strong sense of community that exists within MLC.

MLC would like to sincerely thank each and every donor for their contribution to the Student-Led Bushfire Appeal. If you’d like to read more about the students’ fundraising efforts, click here.

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