Of the thousands of vehicles donated for auction to benefit youth homelessness charity Kids Under Cover few could match the distinctive history of Dale Allen’s Holden Rodeo ute. Its main cargo? Hot air balloons.
Dale, former national administrator for the Australian Ballooning Federation, used it to transport balloons to launch sites and for retrieval after a flight. “Then my balloon got old, and I got old,” he explains, and for several years the Rodeo sat idle.
Dale, a long time RACV member from Emerald, says he was conscious on trips to Melbourne of the presence of young homeless people, and was struck by a promotion for Kids Under Cover. “I have never been homeless myself, but I can sympathise with them, not having somewhere to live. The Rodeo had been sitting in the garage for a while and I thought of Kids Under Cover.”
Donations are auctioned by Manheim with all proceeds to Kids Under Cover. Dale’s Rodeo took the total number of vehicles donated to about 15,000. Cars, trucks, motorbikes, vans and boats have all featured, raising more than $5.5 million to counter homelessness. The most popular car donated is the Ford Falcon. The most expensive donation so far was a 1982 Porsche 911 that sold for $22,000.
Kids Under Cover builds one and two bedroom portable studios to house at risk young people on their families’ or carers’ properties. Its chief executive, Jo Swift, says the program enables young people to remain connected to their support networks: “Once it is no longer needed the studio is relocated to accommodate another young person in need…our studio program (has) housed over 3000 at risk young people.”
More than 60 community service organisations such as Anglicare, OzChild and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency make applications on behalf of young people to Kids Under Cover.
Dale is not one to turn away and always carries some spare money on visits to the city. “It’s just not good enough to walk by and pretend you have not seen anything.”
As for the Rodeo, Dale reckons it is a steal. “Whoever gets it, whatever they pay, they’ll be getting a bargain. It’s not done any heavy work. It’s all been recreational. It’s remarkably reliable and it’s been serviced regularly.”