The family of Hunter Locke-Mair have expressed their gratitude for the community support the campaign for a Smart Pup for their son has received, with the latest show of generosity coming from Lodge Wyaldra (the Gulgong Freemasons).
Eight-year-old Hunter has autism, ADHD, sensory issues, and anxiety. Making everyday tasks significant challenges and he can only go to school for an hour a day, as it's too overwhelming.
A Smart Pup assistance dog would be fully trained for Hunter's specific requirements, and are 12-18 months old upon receipt. The family need to fundraise $20,000, and mother Toni said the support they've received to get about half-way there has been overwhelming.
"We're truly thankful for everything that the community has done for Hunter," she said.
"Amelia sat outside Woolworths while I was at work on a few Saturday mornings, and even if people weren't buying a raffle ticket they would stop and ask what it was about, which also gets the word out there."
On Tuesday evening they were presented with a $1,000 donation from the members of Lodge Wyaldra.
There's always been an air of mystery surrounding Freemasonry, however one of the core tenets is the provision of community service.
Which is part of the Three Great Principles - Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth - specifically relief; "Freemasons are taught to practise charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals".
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And with the Gulgong group not having the opportunity to get out-and-about due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount came from the men of the lodge themselves.
"Unfortunately this year the Freemasons haven't been able to do any fundraising, so all of this has been given from the members' own pockets," Ken Mole explained when the cheque was presented.
Toni said they hope a Smart Pup will help Hunter to enjoy life the way most children can. And that their campaign will also shine a light on the difference assistance dogs can make to those who need them.
"It's like a guide dog, it'll be allowed in shops, restaurants, a seat on a plane, even in a hospital just not an operating theatre. It wears a special vest, so people can't pat it while it's working," she said.
"And we've got permission from Hunter's school for the dog to go to school with him. Which would take place six months after the dog has been living with us and it's had time to bond with our family.
"We're just hoping that by having this dog Hunter will be able to access the community better. He has a lot of anxiety about going out and leaving the house.
"And we want to get the word out there about the work that these dogs do for kids. They have testimonials on their website that show just how much the other kids' lives have changed by having one of these dogs in their life.
"And obviously as Hunter's parents we just want what's best for him and to have a full life as well, to enjoy the things that other kids take for granted."
- Donations can be made online at smartpups.org.au/campaigns/smart-pup-for-hunter-22212/
- Lodge Wyaldra is at 111 Herbert Street, Gulgong, for more information call 0428 243 658 or visit their Facebook page
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