New food plea as drought hits hard
ANNE Thompson's Northern Rivers Drought Appeal scraped together more than 500 boxes of useful household items for drought-affected farmers last year, its 20th in operation.
This year, the Clunes Knitting Nanna was hoping the Northern Rivers community could top that.
And every little bit is needed in western New South Wales.
Many farmers face their fourth year without significant rainfall, Mrs Thompson said.
A couple of provisos: No back-of-the-pantry items you wouldn't touch yourself, and no chocolate.
Chocolate doesn't often survive the journey west, and Mrs Thompson has been "forced" to eat boxes of the stuff in previous years. It's a hard life, she concedes.
Mrs Thompson started the appeal in 1994, focusing on working with the Canegrowers Association to send the Northern Rivers sugar cane "waste" tops to feed livestock.
"I had a brainwave back in 1994. I saw pictures of skeletal, starving cattle and I was so shocked, because it's always so green around here," she said.
"We don't know drought like they do.
"We used to take the donations out ourselves back around 1994; it was a manageable amount back then.
"People started ringing saying things like 'please, we'll have to shoot our horses if we don't get some feed'.
"Now, the drought in Walgett Shire and north Coonamble Shire continues to bite deeply. The last good rain was in the early 2012 and unfortunately since then there has been less than half the average rainfall."
Mrs Thompson said the appeal, now focusing on household goods, powered along each year, thanks to the enduring support of residents and freight companies, such as Tamex Transport.
Donations must be made by the first week in December.
drop-off points for the appeal
Lismore Square - Box outside Woolworths and Lismore Environment Centre (next to Transit Centre).
Clunes - Auto Centre
Alstonville - Century 21 Real Estate, Main St.
Money donations can also be made through Bangalow Lions: Account number 22266650, BSB 728-728, or PO Box 214, Clunes, 2480.