“Return and Earn is one of the best ways to fundraise”

Fatina Elabd, Team Leader – Engagement and Support at Youth Off The Streets, encourages all NSW residents to contribute to a new Return and Earn initiative.

When Youth Off The Streets announced a six-month fundraising campaign with Return and Earn, Fatina Elabd was delighted.

Fatina is a Team Leader – Engagement and Support who works with young people who are involved or at risk of becoming involved with the justice system.

Fatina immediately saw the potential to assist young people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. She also began engaging the 12–24 year-olds she supports in the fundraising efforts.

“Return and Earn is one of the best ways to fundraise,” says Fatina, who has worked at Youth Off The Streets in different roles for more than six years.

“Returning containers is such a small thing to do and anyone can do it.”

“It’s a great opportunity to give back to local community services.”

The partnership with Return and Earn officially began in May 2023. Ever since, Youth Off The Streets’ branding has been featured on Return and Earn machines across NSW and recyclers have been prompted to donate their 10c refunds to young people in need.

Fatina believes that the benefits of the campaign can’t be overestimated. A 10c container refund may not sound like much, but it adds up fast.

In two months, Return and Earn has raised over $30,000 for Youth Off The Streets. That means we’re nearly one-third of the way to reaching our $100,000 target by 22 October.

These funds will help to provide crisis support for up to 1,000 young people in NSW and QLD.

According to Fatina, “the need for support among our most vulnerable young people is growing every day”.

“Partnering with Return and Earn… means we’ll get to have a positive impact on so many more young people’s lives.”

Fatina is currently working across the Blacktown, Bankstown, Fairfield and Macquarie Fields LGAs. She has motivated many young people who frequent these locations to collect containers too.

“We’ve begun a competition between staff and young people to try to return as many bottles as we can,” Fatina says.

The winner, who collects and returns the most containers by the end of July, will receive a free pizza lunch.

“It’s a healthy competition with a bit of banter – including some failed attempts to steal bottles from each other,” Fatina laughs.

Fatina says that, while the young people are motivated by the competitive elements of container collecting, she has also spoken to them about the benefits of recycling.

Achieving the $100,000 milestone requires one million bottles, cans and cartons to be donated. This will prevent 60 tons of containers from ending up in landfill and 120 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from polluting the atmosphere.

Fatina was already a keen recycler before the campaign began. But she has enjoyed seeing more people take part in container returns for a good cause.

“It’s outstanding to see the community coming together, collecting bottles and donating them to ensure young people in need receive support and opportunities to build a positive future,” she says.

To learn more about the Return and Earn campaign, click here. For more information about our Engagement and Support services, click here. 

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