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Retirees ‘do their bit’ and double their donations to drought affected farmers

A humble initiative developed by the residents of one small-town retirement village in regional New South Wales (NSW) to support Australian farmers suffering through drought has exceeded expectations and stretched across state borders, raising more than $12,000 for the cause.

One of the many ways retirement villages across the nation are getting behind drought affected farmers (Source: RetireAustralia)
One of the many ways retirement villages across the nation are getting behind drought affected farmers (Source: RetireAustralia)

The fundraiser, which started at RetireAustralia’s Newling Gardens Retirement Village in Armidale, NSW, has also managed to double that $12,000 total to $24,000 with the support of Rotary International who are matching dollar-for-dollar.

Residents of the village raised the bulk of the funds during one day in August with their home cooked treats, the running of a sausage sizzle and of course a classic raffle of prizes all donated by local community businesses or residents themselves.

Chairman of the Newling Gardens’ social committee, and Rotary member Brian Bremner was one of the driving forces behind the successful fundraiser that brought not only the village together, but also the wider community.

“We saw a lot of reporting on the drought in the news and we thought maybe there was something we could do about generating some money too… so I started to get the ideas underway,” Mr Bremner explains.

“We have quite a number of people in the village who lived on or are associated with the land in one way or another so they were all aware of how bad the situation is.

“So, together we went about seeing what it was that we could do to do our bit.”

Mr Bremner says it was incredible to see the level of support, adding that the response from everyone has been “terrific”.

“It has been a very good show of community spirit with so much support across the board,” he says.

“Everyone in the village got involved, and once word of mouth got out, the public came down and got involved with our efforts too.”

Mr Bremner says the spread of enthusiasm reached across the borders and into South Australia with the help of a relieving village manager who was based in Adelaide.

Ranging from Adelaide to Port Lincoln, a total of nine fellow RetireAustralia villages contributed to the fundraising efforts.

RetireAustralia residents at the Wisteria Grove Retirement Village fundraiser (Source: RetireAustralia)

RetireAustralia’s South Australian Events Coordinator Anna Zinenko praised residents’ efforts.

“When word got around that Newling Gardens was fundraising and Rotary International was to match the amount, our residents jumped into action,” she says.

“The generosity of residents in South Australia has been unbelievable.”

To raise the funds, residents at the Glengowrie village put both their heads and their wallets together, holding a ticketed event with guest speakers, which raised $900 alone, which was then topped up to an even $1,000 with a donation from the village’s residents committee.

Wisteria Grove village raised $600 during a Happy Hour concert, with a sausage sizzle at The Laurels in Mount Barker raising $300, and an initiative at Lincoln Grove in Port Lincoln still ongoing - donating $1 from every meal sold from their Wednesday menu throughout August and September.

Carlyle Gardens also held their own garage sale event on Saturday, which raised $4,700 towards the cause.

Collection tins are also on display at a number of other South Australian villages collecting up coins, with some other villages yet to hold their fundraising events.

As well as the many villages within RetireAustralia jumping on board to support the farmers, Lifeview Residential Care has also been doing their bit to raise some funds.

Residents at Lifeview requested to take part in the nationwide campaign ‘Parma for a Farmer’ to help raise money for farmers and drought-stricken communities.

Lifeview Chief Executive Officer Madeline Gall says each of the four Lifeview homes and the corporate office joined the initiative on 10 August, with all funds raised going to the Buy a Bale Charity.

“The residents on hearing of this initiative came to us and stated that they too wanted to be involved and help in any way they can.

“Residents and staff at Lifeview can relate and have some connection to this natural disaster.

“Many of the residents and staff have grown up in the country and have been farmers themselves, so we just want to help in any way we can.”

Mr Bremner from the Newling Gardens village, which is not far from where the many drought affected NSW farmers live and work, says since their efforts, the region has seen some rain and there is the “faintest bit of green” coming through, but highlights that more is needed.

“We are a long way from being out of the drought but this has been a very, very good project and I think the outcomes are greater than anyone ever imagined.

“It gives people a good feeling.”

Mr Bremner says the funds raised throughout RetireAustralia’s villages will start being distributed this week, and has been organised to go to those in dire financial hardship within their local Rotary district.

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