Now for the sweetener

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Pemberton local and berry Sweet manager Dougy Savage has been blown away by how successful Fruit Loop Friday has been in supporting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Camera IconPemberton local and berry Sweet manager Dougy Savage has been blown away by how successful Fruit Loop Friday has been in supporting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

A desire to help those affected by COVID-19 led to a Pemberton man spearheading a 12-week campaign that provided $30,000 worth of support to his community.

Dougy Savage, the Berry Sweet farm manager, saw how hard people were hit during the COVID-19 pandemic and restructured a company donation program called Fruit Loop Friday to help the whole community.

As part of the program, businesses and individuals would each donate money or specific services at various businesses and each Friday, the complete list of donations would be posted online and people could nominate for which service or voucher they would like.

Dougy would then assign nominations to a service and if there were more nominations than vouchers, it would be decided by drawing a name out of a hat.

“It kind of snowballed at the start, I really do think between the cash, meal and service vouchers, we as a community have donated $30,000,” he said.

“I’d say every business in Pemberton came on board and we even had cash donations from people who were living out of the region.

“Every single cent went back into the community and the businesses were supported in turn as well because for every voucher to a business, there was the chance the recipient would spend more in that business.

“I can say I started it, but if it weren’t for everyone who got on board, it would still just be donations of berries.”

During the last Fruit Loop Friday last week, some of the donations included 10 coffee vouchers at Cafe Brasil, four $25 vouchers for the Pemberton General Store, one tractor service by Agfix and $275 each at Cafe Brasil and Wild @ Heart for a light lunch for staff at St Joseph’s, Little Taddies and Pemberton District High School.

Dougy has lived in Pemberton for about five years, since relocating to manage the farm and he still moves back to Perth two months a year to work at the company’s Bullsbrook location.

He and his wife chose Pemberton as their base because his wife — who came from Sweden — lived in an environment similar to Pemberton.

“We love Pemberton, it’s a really nice town and the people are lovely,” he said.

When he saw the need arise in Pemberton for the Fruit Loop Friday, Dougy said he pushed for it to happen because unlike a lot of industries, Berry Sweet had not been affected during the pandemic because more people wanted to by fresh produce.

He said the program started with a $500 donation each from himself and his wife and $500 from Berry Sweet, which was soon followed by donations from the community.

“I said to my wife that we were very, very lucky and if we had been in tourism or retail, we would not have a job right now,” he said.

Dougy was last week surprised with a thank you package from the Pemberton community.

Spearheaded by Pemberton Discovery Tours co-owner Toni Dearle, the package included a multitude of donations from the Pemberton community, including two nights accommodation at Karri Valley Resort, bottles of wine, a Post Office voucher, a night of glamping from Wild @ Heart and vouchers for dozens of other businesses.

“I was really overwhelmed by the surprise. I didn’t expect it,” Dougy said.

“We had so many good helpers behind the scenes, including people who dropped meals off for the nominated people.”

While Fruit Loop Friday has finished as part of supporting the Pemberton community during COVID-19, Dougy said the program would return for special occasions.

“We don’t want to wear businesses and people down every week for donations, we want it to be special,” he said.

“Thinks like Christmas time, or perhaps once a month.

“Fruit Loop Friday will continue in the future, so keep an eye out for it.”

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