WHEN 17-year-old Zoe Simpson had the idea to host a hay run from Mount Gambier, she never imagined the charity drive would amass 3000 bales in less than two months.
Along with her dad Scott Simpson and his friend Adam Smith, Zoe has rallied the community together for a cause far from home but close to their hearts.
In the beginning, Zoe thought the group might be able to organise “one or two” trucks worth of hay, but with individual donations amounting to $30,000 worth of hay – six full truck loads – the result far exceeded her expectations.
“I cannot believe how it has grown,” Zoe said.
“It is beyond what I had imagined, everyone is giving whatever they can to the run.
“It is so amazing to see how supportive our community is for those who need it most.”
The hay will be donated to two in-need regions, Armidale and Kangaroo Island, which have been affected by drought and bushfires respectively.
On Sunday morning, community members started the unenviable task of collecting hay from properties across the region and gathering it in one location in Mount Gambier’s west.
Mr Smith said the experience was “humbling” and “overwhelming”.
“Having people who do not even know each other working hand in hand and side by side was amazing,” he said.
“They are doing it for people they do not even know either – the community spirit in the South East is just overwhelming.
“We had tractors unloading a full trailer of hay in less than eight minutes, people were really giving it their all to get things under way and we cannot thank them enough.”
With the Armidale convoy set to take off from the Blue Lake city next week in time for the Australia Day long weekend, Mr Simpson said there was still a lot of work ahead of the group to get the trucks ready.
“When we were gathering all the hay together Sunday, we had people who had pledged a couple of bales to the cause filling up an entire truck,” he said.
“This is their money and off their own backs, some people baled paddocks specifically to donate – it has been amazing.
“But with this much hay it means a whole lot of work, we will spend at least a day and a half loading all of the trucks before they hit the road.
“It is tough work, but everyone is doing their part to get it done.”
The cause’s Facebook page has gained more than 1400 followers since it was launched in early December.
Contact Mr Smith or Mr Simpson on 0476 398 423 and 0417 821 686 or visit Mount Gambier Hay Run on Facebook for more information.