Buy a Bale fundraiser’s big total

By John Lewis

Cobram Rotarians Jill and Malcolm Kerr’s mission to help drought-stricken farmers has raised more than $76 000 through Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale campaign. During the past year, the couple visited 63 Rotary clubs — from Deniliquin and Holbrook in NSW to Mt Beauty, Shepparton and Melbourne — to encourage members to donate to the Rural Aid campaign. Mr Kerr is a former governor of Rotary District 9790, which includes Shepparton. Mrs Kerr said after a year of travelling, their final fundraising tally was $38 083, which was matched by Qantas. At the start of their travels last year, Mrs Kerr was inspired to support the campaign because of her own rural background. ‘‘It’s close to my heart as I grew up on a family property near Hay,’’ she said. Mrs Kerr said they recently met Rural Aid general manager Wayne Thomson who thanked them for their support. ‘‘He told us about Visa cards, which were distributed during the hay drops so that farmers can spend them locally, which is so important as local stores need to be supported too,’’ she said. ‘‘We heard so many stories of grateful farmers — one farmer was able to take his daughter to buy some new shoes after school. Up until then he’d been taping her old shoes on to her feet. ‘‘Other families had turned their fridges off, as there was nothing to put in them, others were able to pay accounts such as mechanics, which in turn helped the mechanic — there were so many similar stories. ‘‘Just hearing these stories made it all worthwhile. These are the stories that farmers don’t often tell.’’