St Mary’s Catholic Primary School Georges Hall students have drawn on the lessons of their school patron, St Mary MacKillop to support relief efforts for drought-stricken parts of NSW.

Students and staff dressed as farmers and held a cake stall inspired by the Country Women’s Association of Australia on 10 August to raise more than $7000 to support farming charity Aussie Helpers.

The money will be used to purchase feed for livestock in areas where the water shortage has affected farmers’ capacity to grow or source it. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, July rainfall was at the lowest it had been nationally since 2002 adding to the severity of the problem.

Student leaders at St Mary’s visited their peers to explain the nature of drought ahead of the event.

It was an amazing effort.

– Monica Palmer

Principal Monica Palmer said the school decided on the initiative after a staff member heard an interview with a farmer affected by the drought.

Mrs Palmer said it was difficult for students to appreciate the heartbreak that accompanies drought when their experience of farm life is confined to excursions to a city farm in Abbotsbury that is lush and green.

Her parents and family were raised in Yeoval, a town in Central Western NSW. She hopes to approach the local schools there next to share what life is really like with students through video and other correspondence.

“I recall spending much school-holiday time in Yeoval as a kid, so connect to stories of heartache farmers experience on the land,” Mrs Palmer said.

“Our school motto [from Mary MacKillop] is ‘Never see a need without doing something about it’. The kids know that very well.

“It was an amazing effort. Parents were very supportive.”

Year 6 student James Nakhle said the drought had limited the water and grass available to feed farm animals so they were dying.

“Today was important to raise money to buy some soil and bales of hay and grass, so the farmers can feed their animals and also grow plants,” he said.

This article was originally published on About Catholic Schools on 14 August 2018.