Field days raise almost $30,000 for needy country families

October 14, 2015

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Coles staff, Catherine Clarke, Birallee, Phil Evans, Wangaratta, Marcus Alexander, Benalla, Andrew McGrath, Albury, Maree Walker, Lavington, and Peter Thaus, City maintenance, with Becky Jamieson, Pleasant Hills Public School teacher, at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

Henty Machinery Field Days visitors have raised almost $30,000 for Riverina charity Country Hope through a community barbecue initiated by Coles over the past four years.

Coles team members volunteered their time to work with Country Hope staff and volunteers to cook up a feast for hungry field day patrons, with all proceeds going towards the Wagga based not-for-profit organisation.

Country Hope manager and family liaison officer Ellie Webb said $10,000 was raised this year to bring the total to $29,500 for the four years at Henty.

Coles Centro Albury store manager Andrew McGrath said a total of $14,000 was raised at Henty this year from the sale of showbags and the barbecue, with $10,000 going to Country Hope and $4000 directed to the Pleasant Hills Public School.

Mrs Webb said the field days provided a platform for staff to explain the aims of Country Hope.

The organisation is dedicated to supporting regional families of children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses.

Country Hope provides tailored financial, practical and emotional support through a family care program, a specialised family liaison team during hospital care, family holiday accommodation and an annual camp.

Since its foundation in Wagga in 2003, Country Hope has expanded to Albury and Griffith, providing support programs for children aged from birth to 16 years.

Over the past 12 years, a total of 180 Riverina and Murray Valley families have been assisted, with 118 of those receiving on-going support

“Country Hope has grown every year and up until 2015, we’ve had a minimum of 15 regional children diagnosed with cancer or a life threatening illness a year,’’ Chairman John Studdert said.

Mr Studdert said Country Hope catered for families in a 200km radius of Wagga, bounded by Griffith, Lake Cargelligo, Young, Tumbarumba, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

“To run the organisation, we need almost $500,000 a year of, which $300,000 goes to the families in direct support,’’ he said.

Mr Studdert has manned the Country Hope stand at the Henty Machinery Field Days since 2008.

“The involvement of Coles over the last three years has been enormous – their idea to have a barbecue and promote Country Hope demonstrates how a big corporate can help the little person,’’ he said.

Coles also raised $4000 for the Pleasant Hills Public School, which has 16 students from Kindergarten to Year 6.

Andrew McGrath, of Coles, said the field days were a great opportunity to fundraise for a cause close to many people’s hearts in the Riverina, Murray and North East regions.

“Farmers and regional communities truly appreciate the difficulties in accessing intensive medical care when living in a rural location,’’ Mr McGrath said.