Big Give donations show love for East Loddon P-12 College

GYM TIME: East Loddon P-12 College assistant principal Scott Wilkinson, principal Steve Leed and school captains outside their 'dingy' gymnasium. Picture: SUPPLIED
GYM TIME: East Loddon P-12 College assistant principal Scott Wilkinson, principal Steve Leed and school captains outside their 'dingy' gymnasium. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Big Give is an event supporting central Victorian community groups. The Bendigo Advertiser will be profiling several of the registered campaigns each week until the initiative ends with a 24-hour giving day on September 1. 

East Loddon P-12 College launched a Big Give campaign on Tuesday, calling for help to rejuvenate its gym.

Within 24 hours, the “It’s DingEE, not Dingy” campaign had achieved half its $3000 fundraising target. 

The man responsible for creating the campaign page, assistant principal Scott Wilkinson, was “blown away.”

“We didn’t expect the word to spread so quickly,” he said. 

He attributes the campaign’s success to two factors: social media, and a popular staff member. 

“What we haven’t done in the past is reach out to past students,” Mr Wilkinson said. 

The campaign was shared on Facebook, where it reached alumni and former members of the school community. 

The page had been shared more than 400 times by Thursday afternoon.

“The humble little school I attended for all 13 years of my schooling,” Alison Leech commented on the campaign page. 

“Loved spending time in that gym,” Billie Addlem said. 

Mr Wilkinson said several of the campaign’s supporters had since emailed the school to say they had donated because of their fond memories of a particular staff member: PE teacher John Clyne.

The campaign page describes Mr Clyne as “a gun”.

“He has been at our school forever and has been lobbying for a gym upgrade since he arrived,” the page reads.

“We have a 35-year-old tin shed that serves as our school gym and also hosts community gatherings.

“If it’s 45 degrees outside, the gym will be 45 degrees inside. If it’s freezing, the same rule applies.”

Mr Wilkinson said the school had received a donation from the state government that would see the tin walls of Mr Clyne’s “beloved gym” lined with paneling. 

“We are making good progress, but we want things not left half done,” he wrote on the campaign page.

“John looks young, but we won’t work forever and it would be great to see this job finished before he retires.”

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The Big Give campaign will enable the school to create and install curtains on the gym’s windows. 

“Our community can make money stretch, (it’s our special skill), and we are confident that $3000 will satisfy our wishlist, to have a completed quality facility for our community to use all year round,” the page reads.

But Mr Wilkinson said any extra support would help make the gym even better. 

The campaign page describes East Loddon P-12 College as a “unique school.”

“Firstly, we are the only school I know of that doesn't have a town,” it reads.

“We are literally in a cow paddock.”

Mr Wilkinson said it was also unique in that all of the students commute by bus. 

Six buses carry 240 kids from areas such as Bears Lagoon, Serpentine, Bridgewater, Raywood, Kamarooka, Milloo, Calivil and Mitiamo. 

“Our official address is Dingee, which the unfamiliar with our area pronounce 'dingy',” the page reads.

“Its an unfortunate coincidence that our gymnasium and other areas of the school are 'dingy'.

“We are working to address this.”