According to the Cancer Council of NSW, every 12 minutes someone in Australia will die from cancer … We know the disease does not discriminate and that it stretches across all cultures and communities.
The Cancer Council of NSW is again hosting its iconic Biggest Morning Tea on Thursday 24 May and is encouraging Australians of all ages from all communities and backgrounds to ‘put the kettle on to put cancer out’…
Coomba resident, Jenny Arnold, has been hosting Biggest Morning Teas since 2000. On May 24, Jenny and the ‘Coomba Cowgirls’ – a dynamic group of women who pour a mean cuppa tea – will host their 13th morning tea in a bid to help defeat cancer …
Who are the Coomba Cowgirls?
We are a small social group, which was formed in 1995 to learn line dancing.
Over the years, our activities have widened and the annual Biggest Morning Tea has become an important date for all of us.
Several of our members have had cancer, and we all know friends or family who have had it.
Jenny, over the 13 years that you’ve been hosting Biggest Morning Teas, you’ve managed to raise a colossal $34,000 to assist with cancer prevention and research. That’s a lot of cups of tea … how did you initially get involved in this fundraising activity?
I was invited to a morning tea hosted by my neighbour in 1999 and thought the ‘Cowgirls’ could do a good job at hosting their own one the next year.
We hold our event in the Coomba Community Hall, and it is an open invitation. The first year we made $600 and thought it was wonderful, but now we raise nearly $5,000 each year. This large amount is due to the hard work by our group and also the donations for prizes, which come from local businesses.
What are some of the activities people usually engage in at one of the morning tea events?
It has developed into a real social get together for the people in this small community. There is a lot of talking and laughing, as old friends catch up and new residents are introduced.
We always provide some entertainment, and our big raffle is well supported. And, of course, everyone loves our home cooked goodies.
How does the Cancer Council assist you in running the morning tea?
I liaise with the Cancer Council on behalf of our group and I’m contacted each year with offers of help, ranging from posters to cups, which we use as part of our raffle.
We have been running the morning teas for so long, we don’t need a lot of help, but I know there is always someone I can call if needed.
What does the ‘host kit’ that the Cancer Council provides contain?
It contains posters, receipts, signage, boxes for coins, plus all the administration information required.
Do you use the Biggest Morning Tea as an excuse to turn off your phone and computer and simply enjoy spending quality time with loved ones?
It is quality time, but the hours between 10am and midday are too hectic to relax much.
Each member of our group works hard, and we all know exactly what we have to do.
When our guests leave, we clean up and then have a sit down, a cuppa and a good ‘debrief’.
How do you actually raise funds at the Biggest Morning Tea?
We usually have about 120 guests at our morning tea. They all know to bring lots of money.
We have a mega raffle with between 40 – 50 prizes. That is popular, because each ticket costs $5, but the same ticket is returned to the barrel and can be drawn again.
We also have two other raffles, each with a specific prize – one for $1 and the other costs $2.
We usually have an encore for whatever entertainment is on the day, but the guests are asked to throw coins before the encore, and they are happy to do so.
The guests always give us a gold coin donation for each cuppa.
At the end of the day, any food that is left is plated and a gold coin donation gets you a plate of yummy goodies. That is very popular.
Interview by Karen Farrell.
This story was published in issue 63 of Manning Great Lakes Focus