Farmer aid call
ANNE Thompson is still begging for food.
It's for farmers having trouble supporting their families as drought and hard times again take over out west.
Almost 20 years ago Ms Thompson heard about starving livestock in drought regions and organised truckloads of local cane tops to be sent west.
As Christmas drew closer she also began sending the gift hampers that have become shining stars for struggling farming people.
This year the focus is around Bourke, Brewarrina, Collarenebri and Moree, and many other communities battling to cope with worsening conditions.
"I am committed to filling at least 300 hampers for farmers in these areas but so far have filled only 112 and there are only two weeks left," she said.
"Now I've been asked to include the Pilliga, Come-By-Chance and a little place ironically called Hollywood.
"We've had rain here and everything is green, so people find it hard to imagine how desolate it is out west."
Ms Thompson said the people of the Clarence Valley already had been enormously supportive, with growing piles of Food for Farmers in the foyers of the Grafton District Services Club and the Maclean RSL Club.
"I have many friends in the Clarence Valley, also through Knitting Nannas and Glenugie CSG campaign and I know how sensitive they are to people in the farming community who are doing it hard," Ms Thompson said.
As well as providing a generous cheque, local Tom Cashell last Saturday delivered the first batch of groceries to Ms Thompson at Eltham, near Lismore
But more is needed, from everyday staples to little luxury items to add festive cheer to lives dominated by drought and deprivation.
"It's for farmers who feel they have let their families down," Ms Thompson said, "farmers who dread Christmas because they know Santa will not be coming to their children, farmers whose wives worry about them going 'down the paddock' because they are afraid they might not come back. Many are at their wits' end; many are suicidal.
"Toys, new only, no pre-loved thank you, are also needed for the children of Tara and Kogan who are suffering the health effects of the surrounding Queensland gas fields."
All the hampers will be freighted free of charge from the Eltham Masonic Hall on December 7.
Grafton District Services Club foyer is a drop-off place in Grafton for donated items and a box can be found in the foyer.
Maclean RSL in the foyer.
Cash donations to Bangalow Lions Club: North Coast Drought Relief, PO Box 214, Clunes, 2480.
A/C No 22266650. BSB 728-728.