A mother-of-two in the Sydney suburb of Botany has been surprised with a $15,000 gift thanks to a TODAY show segment sponsored by The Lott rewarding people for their “Random Acts of Kindness.”

Rachael was in disbelief as Karl and Ali made the call to her earlier this morning with the news, she’d been nominated and given a $15,000 reward for her incredible generosity.

The mother of two, Rachael Smith, 48, opened up “Pantry 4 the People” in 2020 where a purpose-built, rain-proof pantry on the street in Botany, Sydney, and remains open 24/7, stocked with food of all kinds for those in need.

As well as stocking the pantry herself, Rachael relied on the help of other locals to donate non-perishables like pasta, pasta sauce, and cereals.

In the beginning, due to popular demand, the pantry needed refilling three times a day.Located at 1555 Botany Road, Rachael’s Pantry 4 the People runs on the motto of “TAKE WHAT YOU NEED, GIVE WHAT YOU CAN.”

Rachael did a lot of charity work during 2020 to help those affected in some way in COVID, including leaving groceries on the doorsteps of struggling neighbours and then visiting the Newtown Blessing Box once a week with a whole load of food.

However, she knew she wanted to do something for her local area.

We spoke to Racheal after the segment.

“Wow. I’m just in shock. I’m usually the one that can keep a secret, but this has blown me away,” she said. 

“Thank you so much.

“The whole amount is going back to the pantry and to the community. 

“I see the difference it makes every day. I can see the pantry from my driveway, and I refill it and within minutes people we are using it. 

“I watched an elderly man take a bagful of groceries, step back and put his hands into a prayer position. 

“People needed this during COVID. It’s open 24/7 for people to use whenever they need, without judgement. 

“This community is special and it wouldn’t be possible without them. This is for our community.”

Keep your eyes out over the next few Fridays as more people are rewarded for their “Random Acts of Kindness” over the last tricky year. 

Well done, Racheal. What a wonderful initiative.