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Think Local

Northern Beaches resident Isaac Tea is a crusader for Sydney's homeless. Having started what began as a donation drive named Happy Helpers four years ago, a one-man mission has extended to a community initiative.

"I was throwing my clothes into one of the Smith's Family bins and then I walked into Vinnies. It was winter at the time and I had this thought 'Wouldn't it be great if I could take the jumper off my back and give it straight to someone who needs it? That's how it all started," he tells Peninsula Living.

"Growing up, we didn't have that much," reflects Isaac. "But now, I'm lucky - I'm comfortable. Walking through the Corso in Manly, you see so many who aren't."

Putting up a Facebook post, the 28-year-old made a call out to his friends, asking whether if he did a drive into the city, would anyone have unwanted clothing to donate to the homeless.

"The amount of stuff that turned up at my place was incredible. Stacks!" Isaac states.

"I ended up with so much that I had about 15 mates drive into the city with me - all in separate, loaded-up cars."

Having no game plan of how to deliver the supplies, Isaac drove around until he found people who may need donations.

"Many homeless people were seeking shelter under bridges and bypasses, while others were around the main train station. They are always so grateful - in some instances they were almost shocked. It's not every day that you have a stranger come up to you and give you a hand," he reflects.

Since then, with the help of his friend Eleanor Hall-Keil, Isaac has joined forces with food trucks at Martin Place and Woolloomooloo.

The Happy Helpers donations run is every last Sunday of the month. Isaac accepts clothes and doonas that are in good condition, toiletries and packaged food.

"I put a message up on the Happy Helpers Facebook page and within the day, donations come flooding into my house as well as Eleanor's," he says. Every time Isaac and his volunteers go into the city, they help at least 100 people.

"A family friend of mine is a State of Origin player, Will Hopoate. When he left the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, he donated us his old gear," Isaac recalls. "It was great to see the homeless in Manly wearing Will's gear on, they were so excited. Those jerseys are worth quite a bit!"

When asked what the best part of running his volunteer service is, Isaac says it has actually helped him out.

"It feels so good to see the homeless who are receiving help be so happy - but honestly, it helps me too. The joy expressed by both the volunteers and homeless - it drives a real sense of community and we learn to appreciate what we have more," he sums up.


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