Locals driving drought relief

Alex Ford

ONE of several initiatives popping up across the district, there was a massive line around the corner for Sale’s Aussie Disposals’ drought relief gala on Thursday evening.

As well as heaps of specials, 10 per cent of the profits on the night were donated to Gippsland Farmer Relief, raising more than $5000.

According to GFR volunteers, who enthusiastically shook tins all night, the money raised was vital.

“It’s all going to the farmers, this gives them some extra support,” volunteer Thelma Keeley said.

“Knowing that the local people are doing it is important — it looks lovely and green, but there’s just no feed.”

GFR uses the money raised to buy food and household items for hampers, which are distributed to farmers in need.

This gives them one less thing to worry about in times of crisis, and supports other charities raising money for other farming causes.

“We have great hampers, we do it once a month, from here out to Loch Sport, we’re supporting our local boys,” Ms Keeley said.

“I think everybody looks at charities differently, sometimes we prefer one charity and not kick in to another, so it’s good we can all get together and help.”

Aussie Disposals manager Phil Gordyn, fixing his Eftpos machines for the huge crowd, said he was happy to help out.

“We’re doing this because the farming community have supported shops and retail and businesses throughout the town for so long, and obviously there’s some people out there having a really hard time,” he said.

“Farmers can’t get hay, they have to buy it from interstate, so we’re enabling the Gippsland Farmer Relief fund to support farmers with hampers and direct them towards other help they may need like counselling and financial help services.”

While many pubs in the area are running the Parma for a Farmer initiative, other businesses are holding events and donating profits, including Portside Food and Wine and the Sale Greyhound Club, while service clubs like the Lions and Rotary have fundraising events designed to buy stockfeed for farmers.

The Heyfield Lions are organising a festival in October, the Need for Feed Festival, which will feature live music and entertainment.

In Rosedale, a brief shower did not dampen spirits at a barbecue on main street.

According to volunteers Ann Williams and Lyndon Phillips, even having a conversation with someone could help.

“The sausages are a conduit for donations,” Ms Phillips said, noting it was bringing together the whole community.

“People are talking, and everyone’s helping.”

The Rosedale group also had raffles, banners and posters designed by a local youth group.

Ms Keeley encouraged people to donate and to find out more about GFR through its Facebook page. “Let’s hope this drought finishes, it’s horrendous — please support the farmers,” she said.