Hotels Have Hearts returned last night for its 15th year, and the industry’s elite gathered to set a new fundraising record for the St Vincent de Paul Society’s quest to help the homeless.

Around 500 publicans and industry representatives gathered at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel to pay homage and bid on auction items, ultimately raising a record-breaking $600,000 for St Vincent de Paul.

The money will be used to fund national initiatives by Vinnie’s, such as meals programs, crisis accommodation, family services and refuges for women and children escaping domestic violence, as well as one-on-one “wrap around” case management, advice on medical, legal and financial issues, and education and training activities.

Hotels Have Hearts committee
Hotels Have Hearts committee

Hotels Have Hearts chairman and AHA NSW vice-president Kim Maloney announced that last night’s efforts greatly surpassed the $500,000 raised at the last event, in 2014.

“Hoteliers are the most generous group of people, and each year I am pleasantly surprised by the amounts we’ve raised,” said Maloney.

“The event seems to be growing each year, and the committee and I work hard to make sure the event is memorable for those who come.

“But at its core, Hotels Have Hearts is about the well-off helping those who are not so well off. It is about giving those in our society who have fallen a hand up, and publicans are always willing to do that. “

Hotels Have Hearts was founded in 2001 by a group of hoteliers, and has so far raised more than $3.6 million for homeless and disadvantaged people, making it one of the premier hospitality industry fundraising events.

It has received ongoing support from the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) NSW, and President Scott Leach said its success is testament to the character of the industry.

“Hotels Have Hearts is a statement that we care, that we are prepared to help, not because we stand to gain through publicity or notoriety, but because the NSW hotel industry believes in a society where those with much will help those with little.”

Special guests in attendance at the gala dinner and function included former Governor General Sir William Deane AC KBE, NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Lieutenant Governor of NSW Tom Bathurst AC.

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