Tzu Chi Australia delivers $1200 worth of groceries to Georgie's Pantry

Georgie's Pantry volunteer Sandra Milling said the response and support they've received for their Farmers Friday initiative has been incredible.

And little did she know that on March 29, that support was only going to grow.

Seven people from Sydney arrived in Parkes that day, representing Tzu Chi Australia - a global charity that has offices in 53 countries, including six in Australia's major cities, and supports people in need through a variety of programs.

First they visited Trundle Central School, meeting principal John Southon and delivering stationery to students in kindy to Year 3.

The team then headed to Woolworths in Parkes and bought $1200 worth of groceries, including fresh fruit and veggies, which the supermarket kindly delivered to Georgie's Pantry.

The Parkes pantry has been offering free groceries to farmers every Friday since September.

"We're trying to help with the drought relief," Tzu Chi Australia volunteer Julia Wu said.

"Some of us arrived in Parkes the night before and visited families in Parkes, offering them financial help.

"It really lifts their spirits - not so much the $500 but the fact that people care, that they have come all this way to support them, that's the difference.

"We [also] had a chat with John Southon and they believe education can help families through the drought, they want to invest more in remote teaching and are looking at renovations for the school."

It's like Christmas, if it comes once a year it's not going to help.

Tzu Chi Australia volunteer Julia Wu

Tzu means compassion in Chinese, while chi stands for relief. Tzu Chi Australia doesn't receive any government funding and works off donations.

The decision to travel to Parkes came about after Tzu Chi Australia volunteers were in Forbes last October visiting farmers.

Julia said they wanted to be involved in the Rural Aid Mega Farm Rescue but due to conflicting schedules they couldn't make it and came a week earlier.

"After that visit we kept in contact with some farmers and farming families, such as Hazel [Contour], who told us about Georgie's Pantry in Parkes and that the numbers of families had increased," Julia said.

"We try and work out how we can reach out more.

"We want to help more regularly and over the longer term, so we're going to discuss that with the Pantry volunteers.

"It's like Christmas, if it comes once a year it's not going to help."

Sandra said farming families from as far as 100km away have registered for Farmers Friday.

Along with families in Peak Hill, Baldry, Bogan Gate, Trundle, Tullamore, Eugowra and Forbes - farmers travel from Yeoval, Condobolin, Burcher, Caragabal and Quandialla.

"Within the first month of Farmers Friday we had one to four people, now it's 20-30 every week," Sandra said.

"We have 40-50 people registered on the list... It's quite incredible.

"We're really grateful for all of the food [donated].

"We're really grateful for all of the food donated to us.

"It's a bit overwhelming, we were only expecting one or two of them," she said of Tzu Chi Australia's visit to Parkes.

Parkes Shire's Drought Response Officer Roger Kitson was also present during the delivery on March 29, as was Hazel Contour from Forbes.

Hazel - whose family members are farmers between Parkes and Forbes - said she suggested the idea to Tzu Chi Australia because there was a major need.

"Farmers are one of the most important people in our communities," she said.

"I'm fighting for the funding for our farmers, I'm on a war path.

"The government has cut our funding and sent it all to Queensland - now what's the difference between flooding, drought and fire?

"There are families who can't even send their children to school with shoes.

"I'm working with a of people to help farming families."

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