Members of Wagga's refugee community have pitched in to raise funds for a community project in Batlow after a devastating bushfire tore through the small town earlier in the year.
The group raised just shy of $14,000 for the Batlow Rotary, which will go towards the construction of an Men's Shed to provide locals with a space to connect with one another.
Snowy Valleys Shire councillor and Batlow Rotary secretary Margaret Isselmann said the project would encourage emotional well-being among members of the community, many of whom lost their sheds and tools to the flames.
"We lost 16 houses hear in Batlow, in the actual township. But we lost 40 sheds," Cr Isselmann said
"[The fire] was all around the exterior, you know, the boundaries of the town and so the fire came in around the tree line and the sheds were up the back where the trees were."
Cr Isselmann said the project was still in its "early stages" and the Rotary was deciding between five possible sites to pitch to the council.
"It will be a great opportunity for us to do some working bees once we finally get the chance to get back together again," she said.
"It's a really positive story actually because we can get all the preparation done and all the planning while the virus is keeping us in doors and then when it's done we can go 'bang' and it will be good."
Cr Isselmann said the shed was still about 12 months away, coronavirus permitting, and upon completion it would be taken into the care of the Australian Men's Shed Association.
"We won't have to manage it nor will council ... we're just giving them the set up and the startup and then they'll be able to get on with it. themselves. Which will be wonderful," she said.
"I think it's gonna be really positive thing. Most of the men's sheds around here of course are established already ... Everyone's got a men's shed. We don't."
The Batlow shed will join more than 1000 of its kind around the country, though it will have an innovative twist - it's being constructed using straw bales.
Architect John Glassford, who has been building using straw for more than 20 years, will design the building which will have straw panels inside its walls.
"We hope it'll help the people of Batlow because this is part of what Rotary does. This is our contribution to the bushfire relief," Mr Glassford said.
While it might sound contradictory, the straw bale construction method in fact has the highest possible bushfire safety accreditation of BAL FZ.
"It will be a tourist attraction for Batlow. People will come and see the straw bale construction and all that it stands for," Cr Isselmann said.
Wagga Multicultural Council chief executive officer Belinda Crain told The Daily Advertiser she had been inundated with offers of help from different refugee communities in Wagga at the beginning of the year, as the bushfires in the region gained intensity.
"Individual groups took it upon themselves. People in these communities from refugee backgrounds started just bringing me in money," Ms Crain said.
"They said we want to give this to the people who are affected by the fires. And we're not sure how to do this. So I become a collection point for that money ... I spoke to the different communities that had brought the money in. And I said, you know, what's important to you?"
Ms Crain said as the money started to build she and the donors looked for a specific project they could contribute to and were directed to the Batlow Rotary.
"It's something for the whole community, something our community members here can be proud of, that they helped rebuild. And when it actually happens I'll be happy to take them up and show them what they've been part of," she said.
"For me, for them to go off their own bat and donate money, when I looked at how many people we had of different backgrounds ... The kindness and generosity in our new and establishing communities was just amazing."
Cr Isselmann said the support of Wagga's multicultural community had been very welcome.
"We think it's quite a lovely synergy to have the multicultural people supporting a country town that's very hard hit by bushfire," she said.
"Those people have been through [so much] and here they are supporting a small country town in a way that is measurable."