Coles The Pines store manager Frank McDermott is a passionate advocate for SecondBite and its local charity partners on the Gold Coast and uses his platform not only to inspire and engage his store team members, but his 25,000 customers as well. In almost eight years of food collections The Pines store has donated more than 40,000 kg of food to SecondBite and its charity partners.
Born in Belfast and growing up on council estates in South London, Frank knows all too well how it feels to go without. As one of five children to an absent father and a mother who worked three jobs, there were often tough choices to be made – pay the electric bill or put food on the table.
Franks says, “I’ve been that hungry kid, so now that I have a platform to make a difference that’s what I’m going to do. I’m passionate about leading and inspiring my team to make a difference as well. Last year our store raised more than $20,000 for SecondBite in our ‘Walk For A Cause’, and we’ve entered again this year. If you can help in some way, however small, you should. It’s as simple as that.”
Frank’s team recently rallied again for flood affected communities on the Gold Coast and throughout northern NSW. At the time of publishing, the store had collected 35 pallets (and counting) of donated dried foods, cleaning equipment and first aid supplies to donate to SecondBite charity partner Kings Community Care.
Manager of Emergency Relief and Operations, Shirley Sykes, has been gratefully organising deliveries of the donated products every few days with her team, distributing to relief centres in Lismore, Woodburn and Ballina.
Shirley says the eight-year partnership with SecondBite has been invaluable and being connected to fresh food and bread collections from five Coles stores in the region each week has made a huge difference to the support she can provide her clients and others.
“We started working with Frank and his team on donation pallets for the Coles Christmas appeal a few years ago, and Frank was onboard straight away; he couldn’t have been more supportive.”
“When the floods hit, I saw a Facebook post from a former colleague whose community was in real trouble. I asked what was needed and she said ‘everything.’ That very day I saw Frank and he put the donation pallets out the front of his store immediately. That was a Thursday, and by Saturday there were already seven full-to-the-brim pallets waiting for me to collect.”
In the ensuing weeks, that count has gone up to 35 pallets and Shirley and her team has made several trips to affected communities. She says, “The people are just overwhelmed, and so grateful for the help.”
In ‘normal’ times, Shirley organises the weekly food collections from Coles stores and with the help of SecondBite has set up Kings Community Care as a central hub for other services to come to for support, increasing the capacity to provide food relief to many more people doing it tough in the community.
The last word comes from Frank. “Sometimes you think the world is a horrible place, but the community really comes together in tough times, and people are so generous.”
None more so than Frank McDermott.