When Bangalow Branch Manager, Christina Emilio found out that her friend, Sarah Connellan, needed help setting up a fund to support the farmers through the North Coast Drought Appeal, Christina was pleased to help knowing the funds would be going to a worthy cause. We caught up with Sarah to find out the difference the appeal is making to the lives of our farmers across the region.
Hi Sarah, was there an experience that inspired you to start fundraising for our farmers?
I was attending a horse event out at Allara (in Queensland) in April and while driving there, was astounded at how dry the landscape was. I thought, ‘these poor farmers, they need help and support’. I wanted to be proactive and so I set up drop off points to donate in the Far North Coast area.
Can you tell us how much the North Coast Drought Appeal is looking to raise?
We are now at just over $14,000 and we are aiming to raise as much money as we can. We’ve been in contact with local people and farmers in the town through the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce and other fundraising appeals; who’ve all been a great help.
How has the appeal been making a difference?
The North Coast Drought Appeal has sent pallet loads of groceries and toiletries out to Mungindi, on the NSW and Queensland border.
The North Coast Drought Appeal sent over 170 food boxes, 80 toiletry boxes and two truck loads of hay, horse feed, molasses in late August to Bingara which is five and a half hours west of Bangalow; the town that Bangalow has partnered with through the Chamber of Commerce ‘Bangalow Adopts Bingara’ Appeal. Just this week our local farming community rallied together and baled 445 round bales that went out on two semi trailers. We are so happy to be able to help fund this bale run with more planned in the next couple of weeks.
I am so proud to be part of such a generous, considerate and empathetic local community. It is wonderful to see that so many people really care what is happening to our farmers.
In regards to the drought, what has the response been like from the Bangalow community?
The momentum has been fantastic and the number of people and local businesses that have got involved has been incredible.
We are getting people as far as Casino, Lismore, Alstonville, and Ballina who are all offering to help. We’ve even had the ladies at the Byron Bay Golf Club who have got together and donated funds to the appeal, and people from Palm Lakes Resort in Ballina who have donated nearly $800 and non-perishable items.
The students at Bangalow Public School are even writing little letters to the farmers, so those will be going out to them, which is wonderful.
It’s been great that there have been plenty of little sub groups coming together and helping out in any way they can.
How long do you expect the appeal to last for?
I expect it to be an ongoing thing for the next year. The Bangalow Chamber has established a relationship with Bingara for at least 12 months; which involves going back to Bingara every three to four weeks with goods and buying stuff in the town too.
We were really concerned about sending out groceries to the towns in need, as you didn’t want to take away from the local businesses, but the locals are even saying to us now, ‘just give us what you have’.
With the money we have raised we want visit these towns and make a difference by investing it back in to their local communities.
To get involved with the North Coast Drought Appeal, please call Sarah Connellan on 0418 192 093. If you’d like to make a difference and donate to the appeal, you can do so by visiting any Summerland branch or by transferring funds to the following Summerland account:
Account name: North Coast Drought Appeal