A NEW campaign launched in Gundy on Friday hopes to ease the financial burden on drought-impacted Upper Hunter families this Christmas.
Its aim is to give 500 households a $1000 'We LIVE Here' gift card to bring some relief and festive cheer as the Christmas rush approaches.
Upper Hunter Community Services (UHCS) partnered with Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook shire councils to unveil the new initiative on November 1, which endeavours to raise $500,000 from donations to ensure the gift cards can get where they are needed most.
Upper Hunter Shire mayor Wayne Bedggood said Christmas could be one of the most challenging times financially and emotionally.
"We will do everything we can to support our communities through that," he said.
"Our Shout this Christmas is an opportunity to give as generously as we are able to, and provide some respite over the Christmas period for our farmers."
Cr Bedggood said Our Shout this Christmas was a fantastic initiative and, with their partners, they would work hard over the next six weeks to reach their target of $1000 for 500 drought-impacted families.
"Individuals, groups and businesses, big and small, from all over the country can come on board with donations and 'shout' a family this Christmas, and all donations are tax deductible," he said.
Muswellbrook Shire Council general manager Fiona Plesman said the initiative's goal was a really wonderful one - and one that Muswellbrook council fully supports.
UHCS will coordinate the fundraising and distribution platform, along with providing an opportunity for community members to learn more about UHCS services.
UHCS manager Mel Atkinson said they were proud to be a partner of the campaign.
"This initiative has the potential to bring Christmas to so many of our joint shire residents," she said.
"UHCS is currently working alongside many people in our community who are doing it tough through the drought.
"With no rain in sight, this is anticipated to get worse with almost 40 per cent of our combined shires declared to be in intense drought."
Mrs Atkinson said it was generally recognised that the Christmas season could be a challenging time of year.
"For many, it can be an overwhelming time and with financial pressures added, Christmas can be a time of extreme stress," she said.
"We are strong advocates for working together and our particular role in this partnership is to provide the fundraising platform as a registered charity and to then work with our local charity partners to deliver the cards to those in need.
"The campaign will not only lend a helping hand this Christmas to those who need it, it will also support local business, which is fantastic.
"Our rural families and workers usually put Christmas on the table for us, well this year, it's Our Shout for Christmas and we need your support to make this happen."
To make a donation visit www.ourshoutthischristmas.org.au
Our Shout this Christmas builds on the successful 'We LIVE Here' program launched in November 2018 by Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook shire councils, which to date has kept $200,000 invested in local businesses.
We LIVE Here gift cards are available from participating businesses and online at www.whyleavetown.com/upperhunter and make a great gift this Christmas, ensuring widespread use throughout the community.
The gift cards are accepted at more than 200 businesses in Aberdeen, Denman, Gundy, Jerrys Plains, Merriwa, Murrurundi, Muswellbrook, Sandy Hollow, Scone and Wingen.
Upper Hunter businesses can still join for free at https://www.whyleavetown.com/register