WITH most of the State experiencing the worst drought in decades, Port Stephens residents came out in their thousands to support the “Bale Out The Drought” fundraiser on Sunday at Medowie.
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With a monster raffle on offer, an auction of quality goods, face painters, shearing demonstration, animal exhibition, Rural Fire Service display, vintage and classic car show, and the all important coffee van, those in attendance were not disappointed.
The total prize pool was estimated to be over $12 500, donated by local businesses and individuals to support drought stricken farmers.
Hosted by Medowie’s Bull ‘n’ Bush hotel, and primarily organised by Ben Niland and Deputy Mayor Cr Chris Doohan, the establishment was overwhelmed with customers throughout the day, with the event attracting more than anticipated numbers.
Cr Doohan told News Of The Area, “Ben and I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing effort of our incredible town.”
“We had three boxes to tick in this four week campaign; to make as much money to help the farmers as we could, to bring our town together and show the strength of the Medowie community spirit, and to raise awareness of this crisis.”
“All three were totally exceeded,” he said.
“Medowie, you are awesome.”
The event raised over $70 000.
Attendees at the event were generous with their purchasing of goods on the day, with event shirts, coolers and hats running out the door.
Raffle tickets were purchased in large quantities, and many in the crowd were moved by a number of auction winners who drove the price up to win their chosen items, only to turn around after paying for their item and donate it back to be auctioned again for even more funds.
Mr Gary Bentley, representing Rural Aid and also a counsellor for the charity told News Of The Area,
“Rural Aid is a charity that’s been going for several year.”
“It started out as the Buy-a-Bale initiative.”
“As the drought got worse, we realised we needed to provide support for those going through mental distress”
My Bentley, who is based in Cessnock also said, “There are four counsellors in the Hunter Valley.”
“This region was the trial area for counsellors.”
“We have been flooded with people needing assistance.”
Latest figures available from The Department of Primary Industries, show that 99.9% of NSW is either Drought Affected, experiencing Drought, or is in Intense Drought.
Only 0.1% of the entire State is in Recovering with 0% of the State in a Non Drought status.
The need for farming relief is real and present.
While there is government funding and other initiatives available to help farmers, everyday people are also finding ways to help their country cousins.
Rural Aid, with the motto, Supporting Rural Communities, is always looking for donations and volunteers to support their expanding work.
With seven different programs running and over 6000 volunteers, help is always appreciated.
More information can be found at ruralaid.org.au
By Heather SHARP & Rachael VAUGHAN