FROM CASTLE HILL TO COBAR

What started as a Year 8 geography lesson discussing the effects of the drought has resulted in Castle Hill High students sending 400 Christmas gifts to the central western NSW town of Cobar.

The gifts were sent to students at both Cobar Public School and Cobar High School.

Castle Hill High geography teacher Larnie Bedano said the driving force behind the campaign was about 10 of her Year 8 students who held a fundraising drive in Stockland Mall which raised $1300.

“My Year 8 class had been studying natural disasters, specifically drought, and how this impacts the wellbeing of families. After discussing how difficult Christmas may be for rural communities this year, we wanted to try to do something to bring some Christmas joy in these hard times.”

The funds were boosted by a $6000 donation from Castle Hill Public School and a $2000 donation from Hills Shire Council.

The final total raised was $12,300 resulting in the purchase of 400 gifts worth up to $30 each. Any leftover presents will be distributed by Cobar Drought relief volunteers amongst the community.

Mrs Bedano said: “The generosity of our community was inspiring.”

She said she and her two eldest children took four days to buy the 400 presents which then had to be wrapped.

“We filled 15 trolleys over four days, from several department and specialty stores.” It then took 30 volunteers several days to wrap them.

“The hardest part was allocating presents to the correct age and gender, which took my daughter and I three days to coordinate, label and double check, ready to go,” said Mrs Bedano.

It was geography student Olivia Wright who delivered the gifts. She accompanied her father Ian who drove the truck full of gifts to Cobar earlier this week.

The 712km trip took 12 hours there and12 hours back with stops on the way.,

Olivia said the scenery was just dirt with very few animals to be seen.

“I expected it to be bad but not that bad.” she said.

Mr Wright said the reception Cobar High School was overwhelming.

“Students were coming up and hugging Olivia. Some teachers were in tears.”

Hills Shire Youth Ambassador Tian Yi Wong See also backed the project with a donation and support.

Hills Shire Mayor Michelle Byrne said: “It really is wonderful to see our young people thinking of others in other parts of NSW doing it tough.