An Illawarra ball to help bale out drought-stricken farmers

Illawarra residents have been urged to pull on their best dresses – or a pair of boots and jeans – to help raise much-needed money for drought-stricken farmers.

A fundraising event – called Bale Out Ball: “Let’s Do It For Our Farmers” – has been planned for early next month, to highlight the plight of those doing it tough.

All proceeds from the September 8 ball, to be held at The Fraternity Club, will go to Illawarra farmers – but could potentially support an entire country community.

Jenny Jones, an event organiser, was spurred into action after seeing masses of people support a drought relief barbecue at Bunnings Warrawong – one of many across the state – on Friday.

Ms Jones was “completely overwhelmed” by the number of people wanting to help and, as a result, decided to organise the ball. 

The event will feature a cocktail food menu, a four-hour drinks package and live entertainment, as well as live and silent auctions and raffles.

Entertainment will be provided by Poor Boy Jack, a Yass-based band made up of farmers who have donated their time to the cause.

The dress code will be dress jeans, cocktail dress, sparkles and boots. Ms Jones said the sparkles would help brighten the dark days being experienced by farmers.

“A little bit of hope, that’s what we’re trying to inject,” she said. 

“As long as you’ve got hope, you can get through. It’s once you lose that hope that you struggle.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of people ... and so many are on the verge of suicide. There’s one young girl who’s scared that when her dad goes down to the shed that she’s going to find him [dead].”

The organisers are in talks with Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba and her Kiama counterpart, Mark Honey, to determine the extent of assistance required by farmers living in their council areas.

Ms Jones said if the money wasn’t needed in the Illawarra, or parts of the Southern Highlands, organisers would “adopt a country town” elsewhere in NSW.

Tickets are $85 and can be bought via trybooking.com.

AT A GLANCE

– If you need help, call Lifeline’s 24/7 crisis line on 13 11 14.

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