Peninsula groups help farmers

By Jackson Russell

Four neighbourhood houses from the Mornington Peninsula have come together to help Pyalong Neighbourhood House donate food and clothing to struggling farmers in regional Australia.

Members from the Bentons Square Community Centre, Mt Eliza Neighbourhood House, Crib Point Community House and Somerville Community House drove from the peninsula last week with a bus full of food, clothing and everyday necessities.

Mount Eliza Neighbourhood House manager Becca Smith said they were inspired after hearing of Pyalong Neighbourhood House’s work with Need for Feed during the Neighbourhood Houses Victoria awards in May.

“Everyone in the community responded, we had kindergartens coming in, community groups, men’s sheds, local businesses, so it was just a bit overwhelming,” she said.

“Mary Budd from the Crib Point Community House got the bus donated from Peninsula Transport Assist and that was great because I don’t know if we would’ve been able to bring all this stuff up otherwise.”

As well as food donated, a craft group from Somerville knitted 370 beanies and scarves, while a former Holeproof employee donated boxes and boxes of socks and underwear for men, women and children.

Pyalong Neighbourhood House president Moira Waye, Crib Point Community House volunteers Barbara Counihan and Debra Bynion and manager Mary Budd, Mount Eliza Neighbourhood House manager Becca Smith and Bentons Square Community Centre manager Kelly Langdon with the donated items.

Bentons Square Community Centre manager Kelly Langdon said she was thrilled with how much community support they received.

“I was born and bred on a dairy farm near Rochester so it really resonated with me, given my background and the families I knew on farms as kids. Farmers do it tough so we were really connected and wanted to help Pyalong,” she said.

Pyalong Neighbourhood House president Moira Waye said she was overwhelmed by the amount of donations collected by the beachside groups.

“Every week, every month, I say the same thing. It brings you to tears the generosity of the people and when you hear the stories of the farmers and how grateful they are, it’s just Aussies helping Aussies, it’s just fantastic,” she said.

Before the bus arrived, Pyalong Neighbourhood House had 48 hampers ready to join the next Need for Feed convoy, but the seaside donation should see that amount double to help more than 100 families.

Ms Waye said she received a phone call from a farmers’ wife who was in tears after receiving lip balm in one of the hampers.

“She told me she had had cracked lips for six months, couldn’t get anything to fix them and when she opened the hamper, there was a Chap Stick,” she said.

“It’s just amazing when a Chap Stick can bring a resilient farmer and his wife to tears, you know how hard they’re doing it.”

From starting with 900 families needing help, about 5000 families have now registered for assistance from Need for Feed volunteers.

Ms Waye said people can contribute by taking their donations to Wallan Community Centre, Pyalong Neighbourhood House, Pyalong General Store or the North Central Review office in time for a Father’s Day convoy.