Drought donations pour in; Visa gift cards wanted | The Big Dry

Volunteers sorting the many donations in the original sorting room.
Volunteers sorting the many donations in the original sorting room.

ONE of the region’s first grassroots efforts to help meet farmers’ needs during the drought has exploded across the state and beyond.

Doing it for our Farmers has branched out to more than 120 collection points and a large sorting centre.

More than 100 care packages have gone out across the region and further inland, and more will follow after the next big sorting day.

Now there are calls for the donations to include more Visa gift cards, which farming families can use on anything they need – or want – at their local businesses.

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Doing it for our Farmers spokeswoman Renae Madams said the donations “quickly outgrew” the original sorting room in the Uniting Church Tamworth.

“We kind of expected it to stay a little bit local and not be this big,” she said.

But a real estate agent had sourced a bigger place.

Professionals Tamworth’s Stuart Watts said the vendor and buyer for the old Carpet Court building in Peel Street had agreed to its use during the settlement period.

“If we can play a part in some small way, shape or form, it’s the least we could do,” Mr Watts said.

Volunteers have been collecting, sorting, packing and distributing the items, including toiletries, cleaning products and clothes.

‘Little other enjoyment’

Doing it for our Farmers founder, Tamworth’s Sue-Ellen Wilkin, said most of the distribution had been “cold drops” – left in mailboxes for farming families to find.

“I know how proud these guys are; not too many of them will ask for help,” she said. “We’re not going to save the world with what we’re giving them, but we hope to just let them know they’re not alone.”

Mrs Wilkin said Visa gift cards, while they cost a few extra dollars to buy, could be an even more welcome gift.

“They can use that to go down and have a coffee at their local cafe; they can go to the local IGA and buy whatever – they can start to live again,” she said.

Uniting Church Frontier Services bush chaplain Phill Matthews, who has also been giving out the packages, said the donation of groceries was “so good and so beautiful”, but also echoed the call for more Visa gift cards.

“The money goes back into the local community,” Reverend Matthews said.

“They can go spend money at their local corner shop or IGA … A Visa card says; ‘Go and get yourself what you want’ – not what they need, necessarily; they can go ahead and blow it if they like.

“They have little other enjoyment in life at the moment, many of them, and this is therapeutic.”