ELTHAM cattle farmer Anne Thompson, longtime saviour to drought-stricken rural farmers in the country's interior, didn't think she was going to run her regular North Coast Drought Appeal this year.
"I wasn't planning to do it this year because I am so involved with the coal-seam gas fight," Mrs Thompson, who doubles as a Knitting Nanna against Gas, said.
But after receiving a desperate plea for help "out of the blue" in the form of a postcard from a drought-affected family northwest of Moree, she changed her mind.
"They've been hand feeding cattle since last November."
Hamper ingredients are collected from Northern Rivers donors, placed in boxes by volunteers, loaded on pallets, and a Tamworth-based freight company will truck them west.
One year Mrs Thompson collected tonnes of cane tops from local cane farmers and turned them into feed bails for starving cattle.
"What we want is for people to start collecting stuff now in their office or home, so when December comes around we will all have plenty to offer."
Mrs Thompson said this year some of the hampers will also go to the families in Tara and Kogan in Queensland whose children are suffering chronic health complaints.
The appeal has use of the Eltham Hall between November 23 and December 7, where items will be sorted and packed, and will need a small army of volunteers.
Drop off places are also needed in Ballina, Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads, Lismore, Kyogle and Casino.
To volunteer call Mrs Thompson on 0412 910 523.
Non-perishable food in packets, tins, jars, bottles,
Including: tea, coffee, biscuits, cake mixes, jellies, long life cream, lollies, tinned fruit, veg, salmon, tuna, sauces, pasta, rice, dried fruit, and Christmas puddings/cakes.
Toys and gifts are also appreciated.