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ABC News

Pay-it-forward coffee at Echuca cafe lifts spirits amid Victoria's ongoing flood battle

A regional Victorian cafe's pay-it-forward coffee initiative is attracting donations from near and far as the state's heart-breaking flood disaster continues.

Lets Do Coffee co-owner Aileen Mackrel's Echuca cafe began a suspended coffee initiative 10 years ago.

Customers pay in advance for a coffee that is then redeemed by a person in need.

More than 2,000 cafés across the globe support the movement, which is believed to have started in Italy. 

The anonymous act of charity has come into its own during the current flooding disaster, which has inundated homes and businesses in the twin towns of Echuca-Moama and the surrounding region.

Mrs Mackrell said the tight-knit community's caring and giving spirit was greater than ever despite the threat of flooding being far from over.

"Everyone's been helping everyone … and they're people you don't even know half the time," she said.

"(Ecucha-Moama) has a community page on Facebook, and people would say 'oh I need sandbags at this place'. 

"And hundreds of people would turn up within minutes and get the job done."

The lifelong Echuca resident said word of her cafe's initiative had spread across the state, with people in Melbourne and beyond contributing by phone or online.

"We've had people we don't know ringing up, donating $100 worth of coffees," she said.

"People are aware there are more people doing it tough at the moment … and want to donate.

"It's really good."

'No judgement'

Mrs Mackrell said someone who needed their coffee paid for could order a suspended coffee, with no questions asked behind the counter.

"If they ask for it, they get it," she said.

"There's no judgement."

She said she also kept an ear out for patrons who mentioned they'd been affected by the floods.

"We've got a customer that comes in nearly every day," she said.

"I didn't know he lived in Rochester and his house is under.

"He was telling me about [it] … then when he went pay I said, 'nup you're not paying for that … you deserve one of these'.

She said the man was taken aback.

"But he was happy I was wanting to give him one," she said.

"It's just a really good feeling to be able to help people."

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