When Peter Coyne set out to rouse Wangi Wangi for the farmers with a Buy A Bale charity drive, he set the target at $9,500 and one semi-trailer full of hay.
The response from the local community blew that target out of the water, as businesses, residents and ‘do-gooders’ from around the area rallied to hit the $30,000 mark and filled the Buy A Bale semi-trailer to the brim.
It was an “amazing shock”, said Mr Coyne, as more and more people came on board with his original plan to just “help out a bit with the farmers”.
“It was so great to see so many people come on board so quickly, the response from the community was brilliant,” he said.
“I don’t think there were many businesses in town that didn’t tip their money in, and some were even coming in just in the last day or two and telling me they wanted to get involved as soon as possible.
“We were asking for $500 from the Wangi businesses, but so many of them were putting in thousands, all the way up to $2,000 I think.”
As Mr Coyne spoke to more owners from local shops and businesses around the area, word spread “far and wide”, and eventually led to an event evening at Hotel Wangi that boasted country music artists, a mechanical riding bull, hay bales and a monster raffle running for a full week.
“We ended up raising around $6,000 from the event at the hotel, and then crossed the $30,000 mark as businesses reached into their pockets,” Mr Coyne explained.
“I think that we set out for $9,500 and we blew that out of the water shows that Lake Macquarie and the Wangi community are just fantastic.
“There was never any ‘what do we get?’ or any questions like that, it was just immediately people putting their hands up. I cannot believe how positive the response was, and I think it’s an unbelievable amount of money raised from a relatively small community.”
As well as the evening’s offerings, local butchers and bakers combined to sell hot beef rolls at the hotel, giving all proceeds – $1,200 in the end – to the charity drive.
After the response from the wider Wangi community, Mr Coyne also confirmed everyone wanted to turn the event into an annual effort, to “continue to show the town’s community spirit”.
“It was just amazing, I cannot state that enough, and the fact that it worked so well means we all want to take another swing at it in 2019,” he said.
“Fingers crossed the farmers are in a better position next year, so we’ll have a look at what we’re going to support when it comes around, I think.”
If you want to donate to support the Buy A Bale charity, you can do so online at buyabale.com.au/donate.