It was meant to be a six-month fundraiser to help people during the drought but three years later the assistance of two Chinchilla women is being called on from farmers like never before.
Tash Johnston and Nicki Blackwell, also known as the Drought Angels, provide food, toiletries, toys and hay to drought affected farmers and their surrounding communities throughout Queensland and other parts of Australia.
The pair’s generosity was first on show three years ago when they wanted to make more people aware of the tough situation some farmers were in and run a few fundraisers to support them.
But there was so much need for their services that they moved away from their jobs as a chef and cleaner to pursue Drought Angels fulltime.
Welcome winter rain to much of Queensland last year meant demand for the Angels’ supplies eased up until Christmas but with almost 85 per cent of the state now drought declared the need for support has never been bigger.
“It’s starting to look like it did in Longreach and Winton two years ago (in eastern parts),” Tash said.
“Since January and with no summer rain and extreme heat, it’s just been going absolutely crazy.”
The pair are planning a hay run to the Auburn area on April 1 and are hoping to organise a similar event for the south west Surat area following that.
She said due to the patchy conditions of recent rainfall many people weren’t aware of the battle some farmers were facing.
“Where we are heading up at Auburn it’s the direst it has been up that way for 50 plus years for this time of year,” she said.
“We have had a lot of people say to us, ‘But its rained, the drought is over’ but no it’s not.
“A couple of inches certainly doesn’t break a drought.”
The Drought Angels became a registered charity in September last year and have been using social media to spread the word about their plight.
They received $600,000 worth of donations in 2016 including support from as far as Canada with the funds seeing them deliver at least 1000 food hampers since their inception and recently donate $10,000 to people needing help in Tasmania.
Nicki said this year many farmers were in ‘make or break’ situations and any help was needed.
“A little goes a very long way and everyone’s little bit adds up,” she said.
To make a donation or find out how you can help the Drought Angels.