“People make me cry, they are so generous.” These words come from inspiring Parkes resident, Ellie Hetherington, who has raised more than $78,000 for Can Assist selling plants from her home. Last year alone she raised $28,591.
Ellie used to sell about 50 plants as a side-line at stalls on the odd occasion, until her sister was diagnosed with cancer more than six years ago. “Can Assist was extremely good to her,” said Ellie, who did not hesitate when someone suggested she started selling plants at the church markets and Can Assist stalls. She soon started making a name as the lady with green fingers and reasonable prices for a good cause.
When considering what has boosted her efforts, Ellie can think of two events; a stall at an Open Garden event really promoted her cause, and in 2012 she joined the social media world of Facebook. “Since then it has really ballooned in a big way. People come from Condobolin, Wellington, Bathurst and West Wyalong. The other day a lady from Grenfell bought 100 trees!” she said.
With a pot plant count of over 2,000, her property is filling up by the day, so much so that at the beginning of last year she was ready to give it all up. “I just couldn’t do it any more by myself” said Ellie, who spends three and a half hours every day watering the plants. Fortunately help was at hand in the form of Diane Sondermeyer and 4 other regular helpers Ellie says she could now not do without. “Diane and Margaret Thurn come about three times per week, while Steve Klein assists with the manure and Judy Barter and Joanne Bartyn offer a helping hand too.” Ellie’s husband has also been a pillar of support.
Ellie is so touched by everyone who helps her in so many different ways. “People are awfully kind. Very few want change when they pay for their plants.” She would often come home to find donations of all kinds dropped at her front gate such as pots, cuttings and plants and receives lots of milk bottles from The Dish Café. A 95-year-old lady once stayed for a whole morning to cut the bottles and make pots and three weeks ago someone donated three new
pumps for her sprayer, while another man saw her spreading Epsom salt and came back with a 20kg bag.
Ellie regularly gets donations from Seasol for fertiliser after phoning one day along with horse manure, saw dust and hay from the racetrack to help create potting soil. To keep her charity running smoothly, Ellie would love it if more people could propagate plants at home and donate them to her once established and is always happy to have an extra pair of helping hands. If you would like to buy plants, donate or volunteer, Ellie can be found on the corner of Military and Eugowra roads. She has a sign on the road when she is home.