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Students give gift of hope to farmers hit by drought

Drought aid

Reaching out: St Mary’s, Laidley, principal Nathan Haley and senior students about to set off for Kingaroy with two semi-trailers of feed bound for drought-hit farmers.

STUDENTS at St Mary’s School, Laidley “payed it forward” when they donated thousands of dollars worth of stock feedand other much-needed supplies to drought-stricken farmers.

With about 70 per cent of Queensland still affected by drought the Laidley students raised more than $10,000 in 24 hours to send their first shipment of aid, which included about 35 tonnes of feed and farm supplies, to the drought-affected South Burnett region, about 250 kilometres north-east of Laidley.

A year before, the school was left reeling by devastating floods that swept through the area. It was the second time in two years the floods had hit the school and the community was there to help them in their time of need.

This act of generosity left an impression on the students. So when they heard about the farmers battling drought they decided to lend a hand as part of a social justice project dubbed “Rural Connect”.

Student Erin Haley joined some excited students on the “convoy” of two semi-trailers carrying 35 tonnes of sorghum stubble and support vehicles carrying a tonne of lick blocks, 400kg of dog food from Laidley to Kingaroy, with a stopover at St Patrick’s School, Nanango, to thank them for their support and contributions.

Erin said it was great to see everybody was willing to get involved in helping out the farmers through the tough times.

“They are struggling with the drought and this is our way of saying we care about you,” she said.

She encouraged other schools across the Archdiocese to pray for rain and to dig deep to help the farmers get through the tough times ahead.

While Queensland’s south-east corner has had some rain in recent weeks, other parts of the state had not been as lucky.

The convoy stopped at Saint Mary’s College, Kingaroy, to pick up more donated supplies, which included 1000 biscuits cooked by Year 5/6 students, before unloading their goods at a farm in the Cloyna area. The hay bales and other items were then distributed to 35 farming families in the Proston/Windera areas.

St Mary’s, Laidley, principal Nathan Haley said the schools consulted with Carolyn Stone from AgForce to best direct the donations.

St Mary’s College principal Michael Nayler congratulated Mr Haley,  the school community and their Rural Connect project for supporting the struggling South Burnett farmers. He said the college had received a number of letters of thanks and stories of tears of joy from the simple deliveries.

“It is wonderful to see St Mary’s Laidley, “Pay it Forward” as last year their community was damaged by flood waters and now they are reaching out to other rural communities,” he said. “Yesterday, one of our struggling farming families expressed their deep gratitude for Rural Connect’s delivery of much needed animal feed.

“Our farmers are grateful that they have not been forgotten as whilst there is a bit of green from recent rains, the pastures have not yet returned.”

The Laidley students have already started fund-raising again so that more convoys can be sent to struggling farmers.

Mr Haley said the students had also developed a video for other Catholic schools in the Brisbane archdiocese to show them how they can help raise more funds.

“It’s just a simple message the children are trying to get across and the message – every time you open a fridge, thank a farmer,” he said.

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