In 2018 members of our community were digging deep and donating food, toiletries, pet food and cash for drought-stricken farmers out west.
Now, at the end of 2019, it's our turn. Drought-stricken farmers in our very own community are needing assistance.
Wingham man Trevor Smurthwaite saw the need that farmers out west have been facing starting to affect our own rural communities and acted on it.
Related reading: Wingham digs deep for drought appeal
Noting that there were no farming charities helping our region, Trevor discussed the situation with a friend of his in Taree who volunteers for Aussie Helpers by driving loads of donated goods to other places. At his suggestion, Trevor contacted Aussie Helpers and negotiated for donations collected here to be distributed here as well.
"It didn't seem fair taking it from this area, that's really now starting to struggle, and putting it into another area. We're desperately going to need the help," Trevor said.
"A lot of the farms are doing it really tough and food for animals and water is scare.
"So Aussie Helpers gave me the go ahead and they've been 100 per cent behind it."
It didn't seem fair taking it from this area, that's really now starting to struggle, and putting it into another area. We're desperately going to need the help.Trevor Smurthwaite
Trevor is accepting donations of non-perishable foods, toiletries and essentials, toys, cash and vouchers.
Donations can be dropped at the following locations:
- CSI Business Solutions, Isabella Street, Wingham
- Manning Valley Landscapes, Wingham Road, Wingham
- Wingham Produce, Primrose Street, Wingham
- Taree Produce, Whitbread Street, Taree
- Elders Produce, Crescent Avenue, Taree
All vouchers included in the hampers are for local businesses and branches, such as the produce and rural supplies stores, meaning everything donated locally stays local.
At the moment, it's a one-man show with Trevor putting together all of the hampers and delivering them. By Christmas he expects to have distributed 20 hampers. He does, however, concede this may very well be a long-term project and he may need assistance in the future. He is in it for the long haul.
Related reading: The river runs dry - Manning River at zero flow
"I think this is going to be a long term thing, probably for the next two or three years at least. Even if there's rainfall now, it will fill up the tanks but that's about all. There are no crops in the ground, stock animals have been sold, it's going to take a good many years to turn it around, if it does get back to normal.
"I think we're going to be doing what we're doing with Aussie Helpers for a long, long time, just doing what we can," he said.
"We're just trying to get as many out as we can. It's help they should be getting from the government and there's none of that coming through, so we've just got to do what we can.
"Hopefully it gives some relief to some people; just to let them know that someone's out there that cares. They've been sort of left out to dry," Trevor said.