While the country rallied around those who suffered through the December 2019-January 2020 Bushfires, so too did the Sharks, who banded together in an effort to provide relief to some of those most affected.
Players dug deep into their collections of boots, jerseys and other unique items, as did some of the Sharks former legends, with Gavin Miller, the Sharks great ball-playing backrower of the 1980’s and 90’s, donating his 1989 Dally M Forward of the Year trophy, while 1973 Sharks Captain-Coach Tommy Bishop added his 1968 Great Britain jersey and Mat Rogers his 1995 Sharks debut jersey to the auction in what were amazingly generous gestures.
Andrew Fifita’s 100th Sharks game ring, Shaun Johnson's 2017 Rugby World Cup New Zealand Jersey and memorabilia offered by Chad Townsend, Josh Dugan and Scott Sorensen, included amongst other items donated by the current playing group, went towards the auctions which were supported by generous Sharks fans and members as the amount raised in the relief appeal tipped over the $25,000 mark.
Submissions were sought as to where the best places might be, those clubs, schools and communities most in need, with a handful of the worthiest the recipient of a Sharks grant.
In all $23,400 was distributed, added to that the costs related to outfitting the NRL squad in safety equipment for their day at Kangaroo Valley, when the full team, including John Morris and his coaching staff, assisted in clean-up efforts, and it represented a contribution from the Sharks in helping some of those most in need.
Once considered from the numerous applications, the recipients and final amounts donated by the Sharks to the various organisations included;
$7500 to Salt Care, a local disaster relief charity
$3500 to Batemans Bay Public School to help fund recreational programs for kids affected by the fires.
$7400 to Milton Ulladulla Junior Rugby League Club to provide financial relief for the club and the families affected. This was done through subsidised registrations and financial aid due to the loss of sponsors who were also affected by the fires. This allowed them to buy new equipment and jerseys for teams to continue playing.
$5000 to Men of League to help rebuild fencing on properties that were destroyed by the fires.
Since being distributed the funds, all concerned have expressed their appreciation to the Sharks for their donation and for the positive impact it had on their organisation and community.
The relief effort was led by Morris, who has family on the NSW South Coast, the NRL playing group and in partnership with Sharks Have Heart, the Club’s community arm, with the motivation being to assist those who may not have been eligible for the bushfire grants which were being offered through the major fundraising initiatives.