There are more than 100 families in the Upper Hunter that have one less worry ahead of Christmas in the Upper Hunter.
The 'Our Shout This Christmas' campaign has been a huge success through Upper Hunter Shire and Muswellbrook Shire Councils with Upper Hunter Community Services who put the call out to the community far and wide for donations, big or small, to raise enough money to get $1000 We Live Here cards to farmers who need it most this Christmas.
David Gatwood, the Manager of Business Services at Upper Hunter Shire Council said it's been fantastic.
"Obviously we set a very lofty target but at the end of the day the tally is at about $106,000 and change, and what that equates to is there are 106 families who are obviously doing it very tough who will receive a $1000 We Live Here card."
"So we're hoping that that makes a difference and allows them to enjoy I guess a lot of the things that we take for granted come this time of year,"
"There's been fantastic local community support, we've had some wonderful donations from far and wide."
"It was the brainchild of Jacqui Bakewell who is our grants officer and was instrumental and worked with the likes of Amanda Riordan in putting the We Live Here program into place just over 12 months ago so it was really just a natural extension of this and we're absolutely delighted," said David Gatwood.
One quarter of the total amount coming through the online donation facility. Generous contributions companies and businesses, including Morgan’s Scone, Scone RSL, Aberdeen Treasures community group, Thiess, Bengalla Mining, Lake Macquarie Council, Muswellbrook Shire Council and Upper Hunter Shire Council staff had boosted the total.
Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood said that the fundraising campaign came about after many enquiries from businesses, groups and individuals indicating that they wished to help regional areas suffering from the drought through one of the most financially and emotionally challenging times of the year.
“We are delighted with the response from businesses, groups and all of the community members who came on board to donate and “shout” a family this Christmas,” he said.
Muswellbrook Mayor Martin Rush also supported the campaign.
“The response to the “Our Shout this Christmas’ campaign has been heartening given the difficulties the region is experiencing with bushfires on top of the drought. And not only is it supporting drought impacted families over Christmas but keeping expenditure local and supporting our rural businesses who are also suffering.”
Upper Hunter Community Services Manager Mel Atkinson said UHCS ,who have co-ordinated the fundraising and distribution platform of the initiative, have begun to distribute the donated funds through $1000 “We Live Here” gift cards.
“It is an absolutely humbling experience and a privilege to meet and talk to such amazing people in the Upper Hunter. One outcome we can already see happening is the link for people to our services. The gift bags look amazing and emotions have been quite raw when people have read the messages of support," she said.
Our Shout this Christmas” campaign built on the “We LIVE Here” program launched in November 2018 by Upper Hunter Shire and Muswellbrook Shire councils. We LIVE Here gift cards are accepted at over 200 businesses in Aberdeen, Denman, Gundy, Jerry’s Plains, Merriwa, Murrurundi, Muswellbrook, Sandy Hollow, Scone and Wingen.
Image credit: Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook Shire Councils