Medowie Bale Out the Drought campaign raises $70,000 for Rural Aid

“Insane”.

That is how Medowie Bale Out the Drought organisers Chris Doohan and Ben Niland described the goal-smashing end to the month-long campaign that saw the community of 9500 people raise $70,000 for farmers battling the big dry.

“We had three goals going into this,” Mr Doohan, who is also the deputy mayor of Port Stephens, said.

“One was to raise money for farmers, which we absolutely smashed. We quickly went from a fundraising goal of $10,000 to $20,000, a little slower to $30,000 but all the sudden we had $50,000.

“After a huge community day on Sunday we smashed that and raised $70,000, which is insane.

“The second goal was to bring the Medowie community together. We did that in spades on Sunday. 

“The third goal was to raise awareness about the drought. Without a doubt, we’ve done that.”

All money raised will be donated to the charity Rural Aid. 

The Bale Out the Drought campaign kicked off on July 12 and wrapped up with a family day at the Bull N Bush Hotel on Sunday, August 12.

Mr Doohan and Mr Niland believed up to 3000 people attended the family day on Sunday, calling it the biggest event Medowie has ever seen.

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson recognised the Medowie Bale Out the Drought campaign in parliament on Monday. She congratulated Medowie on raising enough money to send seven B-doubles loaded with hay to the bush.

“You’ve really punched well above your weight,” she said.

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington also thanked the “big-hearted community of Medowie” for their efforts in parliament this week, saying it was “astonishing” that the town of less than 10,000 people has raised $70,000.

The first donation the campaign received was for $5000 from the Bull N Bush.

From that, the campaign received a steady stream of support from residents and businesses either through cash, goods or services.

Mr Niland said Medowie businesses directly contributed $18,000 to the campaign, either through cash donations or products to raffle or auction off.

“Everyone has been so incredibly generous,” Mr Niland said. “We cannot believe it. We’re really so happy with the result.

“I think people have become more aware of just how severe drought it because its now getting more and more media coverage.

“The drought is coming into people’s lives via the TV. The past fortnight or three weeks there’s been a particular surge in people’s awareness about drought.”

Mr Doohan and Mr Niland said they could not thank all those who donated, helped or volunteered their time to the campaign enough.

Mr Doohan thanked Jolene Smith for creating the campaign’s logo, the Medowie RSL Sub-Branch for cooking more than 600 sausages on the barbecue at Sunday’s community day, the Bull N Bush Hotel, all the children that donated money from their piggy banks and the sports clubs for their contributions – just to name a few.

He said donations were made from even the smallest of community groups including garden, bridge and senior citizens clubs.

“It’s a massive thing to have kids donate their piggy bank money and little clubs to donate hundreds of dollars to this campaign,” Mr Doohan said.

Send your pictures from the August 12 community day to the Examiner at portstephens@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

Port pitching in to help with The Big Dry:

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