With their mother dead and their father behind bars, the four children of Sunshine stabbing victim Fiona Warzywoda are now living in cramped conditions and needing basics such as clothes and food.
The children of Ms Warzywoda, who was stabbed to death in Sunshine last week, have been put in the custody of a relative in country Victoria, but a friend of the family says the house is "squishy" and not set up for children.
"There's three bedrooms, but two of them are being used by other people," Stephanie Payne told 3AW. "There are three in the carer's bed, the three littlies, the teenager is on the couch and the carer is actually sleeping on the floor."
Mrs Payne, whose children are friends with Ms Warzywoda's, went to visit them on the weekend and says they had around two sets of clothes each and no toys. The children range in age from 5 to 15.
"I brought these donated goods up on Saturday, there were some stuffed toys on the top … the youngest one grabbed them and went off and played with them and it was like he hadn't seen stuffed toys in years."
In a later interview with Fairfax Media she said they were kept busy over the Easter weekend to take their mind off things.
"They've been out and about," she says. "They haven't noticed how much being in a small house is affecting them."
One week ago today, 33-year-old Ms Warzywoda was stabbed to death, allegedly by her partner Craig McDermott, in Sunshine, only hours after visiting Sunshine Magistrates Court over a family violence order against her de facto of 18 years.
Ms Warzywoda had taken her four children to stay at their relative's house in regional Victoria the previous weekend, which is why the children have few of their belongings with them.
"Fiona had left Melton to start a new life," Mrs Payne says. "She had moved up there with the intention of settling there."
After Mrs Payne did an interview with 3AW on Wednesday morning, thousands of dollars in donations for the children started pouring in.
Helen phoned into the radio station to donate $1000, saying "no child should have to go through this … I just don't know what we can do apart from help these poor kids out".
Thousands of dollars in donations was also raised from the 600-strong crowd that attended a vigil for Ms Warzywoda in Sunshine on Tuesday night.
‘‘People were putting in notes, not gold coins ... we definitely raised a few thousand dollars to go towards the kids,’’ organiser and Sunshine resident Sophie Dutertre said.
‘‘They have lost their parent and this is not a family that appears to be well off.’’
Ms Dutertre said a woman from Melton donated $1000 to be put towards Ms Warzywoda’s funeral costs.
Rose Williams, a friend of Ms Warzywoda, remembered her as a beautiful and kind woman, who loved her children deeply.
‘‘She was a wonderful lady, who cared so much about her family and friends,’’ she said.
‘‘This is a young life lost for nothing and four children who are left without their mum.’’
Mrs Payne was overwhelmed when told of the sums of money the children would be receiving.
"I just want to thank everyone for the outpouring of generosity and kindness, and the acknowledgment of what these kids are going through," she said.
A trust fund for the four children is expected to be set up by early next week. In the meantime, anyone wanting to donate money, vouchers, or non-perishable goods can contact Stephanie Payne on firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Nick Toscano