The first day back at school after the holidays was one of joy for students at three Orange schools with the gift of $24,000 worth of musical instruments and Lego packs as part of Rural Aid’s drought relief program.
Orange High School and Canobolas Rural Technology High Schools each gained $11,000 worth of presents while Orange East Public School was given $2000 worth of instruments.
Orange High School music co-ordinator Deanne Prusiak said the school was stunned by the amount of gifts they had received.
She said the school had received an email asking what they needed and they had sent a list to Rural Aid.
“I was thinking we’d get maybe one or two things but they have brought everything on the list,” she said.
Ms Prusiak said it would have taken several years for the school to have been able to buy all the equipment without Rural Aid’s help.
The instruments included several African drums, known as djembes. “We are going to start up an African drum group,” she said.
Ms Prusiak said there were students at the school who were directly affected by the drought.
“I think there are a lot of people who are doing it tough and it is an issue that most people are aware of at the school,” she said.
“I think when there is a drought there can be a lot deepness, a lot of down-feeling.
“It [music] just lifts the mood. It helps you feel better. I think it helps your mental health if you can play music.”
School captain Lucy Johnston said she had family who lived on a property near Tamworth who were hit by the drought and they had not been able to raise crops.
“It’s the first time since 1967 they haven’t been able to harvest a crop,” she said.
“I have some girls in my friend group who live on property and I know they are doing it tough.”
She said music provided an outlet for people in hard times.
Rural Aid Gift of Music Program co-ordinator Robyn Thomson said donating the instruments was a different way of providing relief from the drought to giving hay and direct benefits to farmers.
“We’re helping children. We are giving them opportunities they don’t always have,” she said.
“It gives them solace, coming to school can be some solace when life at home is pretty bad,” she said.
Gifts totalling about $240,000 have been donated to the Orange region through Rural Aid in the past two days.
On Monday the Rural Aid team, plus a busload of staff from the Merrylands RSL Club in Sydney, donated about $200,000 worth of hay to more than 40 farmers.
The hay and musical instruments were donated thanks to funding from the club staff and board, Qantas Airways and many donors throughout Australia.
The article’s credit is for the source: Central Western Daily