While recent rain settled dust, replenished dams, lowered temperatures and inspired some green growth, it was a far cry from the drought-breaking amounts needed so desperately in central and far western NSW.
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For members of the Far Western Group of the Country Women's Association (CWA), the days leading up to and following Christmas were a flurry of activity as dedicated workers sorted, packed and distributed a huge assortment of goods donated by groups and individuals from coastal and interstate areas.
The response to the plight of farmers in drought ravaged areas was overwhelming.
Trailer loads of goods, donated by groups and individuals from coastal regions arrived at destinations west of the Divide and were greeted by members of CWA who had been delegated to store, sort and distribute.
Along with these donated items were vouchers for varying amounts, purchased from local businesses in a show of support.
In far-flung Wanaaring, at the time of writing, still waiting on their share of the rain, CWA members received monetary donations which were used to supplement membership fees for drought affected farmers.
In Bourke, CWA members worked diligently to pack and distribute grocery hampers. Visitors to the town came armed with monetary contributions that were distributed to farmers.
Discos were organised to lighten the mood and help the children who are often forgotten victims of drought. Christmas hams became a staple on the donation list. Christmas cheer arrived from all over the country.
One notable well-wisher was a gentleman from Tasmania, a migrant who, many years ago was welcomed to Australia by CWA members and who now wanted to reciprocate by helping drought-stricken farmers.
Donated goods were delivered to outlying farms through the generosity of local mail contractors.
In Nyngan, a much appreciated donation of $250 was used to subsidise the branch membership fees as specified by the donor.
However other monetary donations totalling in excess of $3000 from well-wishers throughout NSW and interstate, were used to buy vouchers from local businesses to be distributed where needed.
Some donated funds were passed on to the shire council's drought relief appeal, and subsequently, through the Rural Counsellor, distributed to farmers in need.
An amazing amount of clothing and shoes was donated and distributed through local charity stores while pamper packs for the ladies were delivered by the rural mail contractors.
A little removed from the west but none-the-less affected by drought, Narromine CWA members were also busy sorting, packing and distributing.
In partnership with Rotary, a $20,000 donation from city Rotary clubs was converted into locally purchased goods and vouchers.
Pamper packs for the ladies on the land were collected and donated by a Cumnock group called 'Ladies of the Land' and distributed by Narromine CWA members.
In Trangie the inaugural Truck and Tractor Show, held in August, provided an opportunity for local CWA members to contribute to drought assistance.
Billed as a family affair, the emphasis was largely on lifting the spirits of drought affected farmers.
In this, the event achieved success beyond anything expected.
CWA members catered for in excess of 2000 people, a big percentage of them visitors and the overall feedback was "CWA food was home-made and fresh".
A group of five-wheelers visiting the local caravan park donated an assortment of goods to be sorted, packed into hampers and distributed by CWA members. These hampers were delivered to the local schools to be distributed to families in need.
Langley's Coaches of Dubbo provided free transport to Trangie and Warren for a shopping spree that was designed to boost the towns' flagging economy.
Members of CWA acted as hostesses, welcoming and directing the visitors to the local shops and areas of interest.
Elzette of Ladies for the Land and Sandra and Jamie O'Neil of Plum Jam Farm near Hargreaves collected and arranged transport for one hundred and twenty five and fifty packs respectively, to be distributed by CWA members.
Glen Short's Butchery in Narromine received a very generous donation of vouchers to the value of $75 each. These vouchers, kindly donated by the Lack Group were distributed to needy families in the area.
While the drought lingers on, many farmers view the recent rainfalls with optimism.
The generosity, care and concern shown in so many ways by so many people has done much to restore confidence in the future, and Central and Western NSW send a heartfelt thank you to all those who helped reduce the sense of hopelessness inflicted by the ongoing drought.
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