Thirteen members of Gerringong Lions have recently returned from a long weekend goodwill visit to Forbes, as their contribution to drought relief.
“I reckon that when you take into account what each of us spent on accommodation, fuel, food, entertainment and shopping, on top of the $5000 from Lions fundraising we took with us, we would have injected around $15,000 into the local economy,” says Gerringong Lions President Steve Moore.
As well as giving $1000 donations to the CWA and Forbes Lions, Club members went around to local businesses to distribute donations to those doing it tough.
“People have run up tabs at the butchers and the pharmacy that they just don’t have the money to pay off,” says Steve.
“The chemist was particularly concerned that people were putting off buying medications because they didn’t have the money for them.
“By giving the businesses money to put against these accounts, we were helping not just the customers, but the businesses.
“They couldn’t believe we were doing it. It got pretty emotional at times.”
Steve says that usually the Club works to fund local causes, but there are times when they feel they just have to look further afield.
“It wasn’t until we got there that we found out the Forbes Lions Club has taken on the job of supplying food for all the farmers’ working dogs and the pets in town that people can’t afford to feed,” he says.
“They are buying half a pallet of dog food a week to help people out.”
He encourages other clubs to consider organising similar visits.
“Our original trip out to Condobolin last year was Steve Pottie’s initiative, and was so successful we thought we’d do it again.
“It is a great social event, with the double edged sword of helping these towns survive.”
People who don’t have the time to travel out to the regions are being encouraged to shop there online this Christmas.
More than 100 small business owners across regional NSW have listed their stores on www.nsw.gov.au/buyregional, since the government initiative was launched early this month.
Running side-by-side with this is the #buyfromthebush campaign, being run on instagram.
The volunteer-run initiative supports businesses in drought affected areas across Australia.