A country Victoria-based business has extended Bendigo charity group Foodshare a lifeline with the donation of a forklift.

Ouyen-based training organisation Top End Training gifted the machine to the organisation which distributes food directly to local relief agencies.

Foodshare administration and food rescue manager Fay Barrett said the organisation’s old forklift was ready for retirement. “If it was an animal, it would have been euthanased a long time ago,” she said.

She was moved to tears by the generosity of Top End Training director Bill Morrish, the man she calls “Santa Claus”.

Mr Morrish said the decision to donate was an easy one. “After I understood where it was going, I had to help,” he said. “If you’ve got a heart, you can’t do nothing.”

Ms Barrett said Foodshare helped 14,000 central Victorians in their time of need each month. “One in four people in Bendigo have needed assistance from relief agencies in the past year,” she said.

The tale of struggle is a familiar one to Mr Morrish, who has seen his share of tough times. “I’ve been there myself,” he said. “After a few bad things happened in my life, I was in Darwin sleeping in the back of a 100 Series (Landcruiser), sneaking into the caravan park early in the morning to shower so no one would see me. I know exactly what it’s like to have to beg for a feed.”

Mr Morrish’s business, which has an office in Bendigo, now employs 320 people and issues 14,000 certificates of attainment each year. He said he was delighted to support a country cause. “We like supporting things in the bush, because we’re real people and we know we’re dealing with real people,” he said.

Foodshare operations manager Ray Butler said receiving the new machine was like “moving from an abacus to a calculator”. Replacing the group’s ageing forklift without assistance would have been an impossible task, Mr Butler said”We don’t have any income,” he said. “We’re reliant on the community of central Victoria to support us.”

Ms Barrett said Foodshare’s quest to raise $100,000 was progressing but the organisation still needed desperately needed funds to stay afloat.

“We’re moving along slowly,” she said. “We’ve got until June and we’re about a third of the way there.”

Donate to Foodshare online.