Dig deep for drought relief

North Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain Matthew Scott has challenged members and fans attending Friday night's big game against the Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium to show their support for drought-affected farmers in Queensland’s west.

Volunteers from the Townsville Castle Hill Lions Club will be at the stadium gates and mingling with fans to collect donations for their National Drought Relief Project and Aussie Helpers, the volunteer-based charity providing direct relief to farming families affected by the state’s ongoing drought.

“With no decent rain for three years, farmers in western Queensland are doing it tough and many are struggling to make ends meet,” Fiona Pelling, Cowboys general manager - community said.

“We’re expecting over 20,000 patrons at the game and if everyone donated just $2, the Lions Club and Aussie Helpers would be able to distribute $40,000 worth of relief to those who are struggling.”

“The country around Longreach and my home town of llfracombe is some of the worst-hit at present,” Matt Scott said.

“I know a lot of families out there and many of them are facing real hardship – I know that anything we can do to help will be greatly appreciated.”

Set up by the Lions Club of Townsville Castle Hill in 2013, the National Drought Relief Project has raised and distributed through Aussie Helpers over $752,000 to drought-stricken farmers throughout western Queensland and New South Wales.

In the past two months Lions Clubs Australia and Aussie Helpers have spent over $60,000 in the region by locally purchasing vouchers to give to graziers, so that businesses in the area also benefit from the generosity of people through the Lions National Drought Relief Project.

“We were also able to donate $6,000 to the School of Distance Education to help parents offset the cost of getting their children to Mini-School which is held each term,” Brian McAtee from the Lions Drought Relief Programme said.

“On top of this, 140 properties were visited and 1,500 round bales of hay, 100,000 litres of liquid stock feed and 20 pallets of lick and animal health products were distributed at six Hay Days to help save valuable breeding stock.

“Lions International have made available over $150,000 to Aussie Helpers for travel and accommodation costs to supply qualified psychologists to meet any graziers who are struggling with mental health issues.

"Aussie Helpers has been assisting rural Australians to overcome disasters for over 13 years – they have the knowledge and the volunteers on the ground to see that the funds and fodder are directed to those who need it most."

Scott's message to patrons coming along to Friday night's anniversary match was for them to think about how tough it is for the families affected.

“Just think what it would be like to have little or no income for two or three years and dig deep so that Lions and Aussie Helpers can keep up their great work.”

More information: lionsdroughtrelief.com.au