The region's farming families will have presents under the tree at Christmas - thanks to Santa and his elves, and two big-hearted women.
Guyra resident Tarsha Baker and Jaclyn Bold, Sydney-based co-ordinator of the Drought Aid food and water relief campaign, have organised the Santa Run to deliver gifts to families from Uralla and Walcha north to Glen Innes via Armidale and Guyra.
"We're hearing families tell kids pointblank that Santa's not coming this year," Jaclyn said. "There is no Christmas; there's no food; there's nothing left. It's heartbreaking for the families."
"We're asking people to nominate anybody they know - whether on a farm, they're a fire victim, or just somebody they feel needs extra-special love for Christmas," Tarsha said.
Call Tarsha on 0448590925, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the parent(s)'(s) name(s), children's names and age, an address to deliver, and a contact phone number. Tarsha will wrap a gift, let the family know they've been nominated, and Santa or his elf will deliver the gift.
Tarsha said she had a tremendous amount of children's gifts already, ranging from brand-new pushbikes to scooters, footballs, and dolls. The Irish workmen who delivered water late last month brought a load of gifts, and five crates will come from Jaclyn in Sydney this week.
Ten families in Guyra and Wandsworth received gifts on Sunday. "There was a lot of laughter, a lot of smiles, a lot of joy and excitement ... and then there were tears," Tarsha said.
Some struggling families, she said, broke down because they had no food, and hadn't expected to have Christmas at all.
Another family sat down and played the board games the kids received. "It was," Tarsha said, "the first time they'd been able to laugh and have a good night with the kids for a very long time - and they hadn't thought that would ever happen again for quite a while."
One farming family said the gifts made them realise that people out there do care. A single parent said their children were over the moon with what they received, and can't wipe the smiles off their faces.
Gifts can be dropped to 6 Moredun St, Guyra, at any time, or to the Hub at Guyra, 160 Bradley St, between 10am and 2pm. Men's gifts or vouchers for men particularly wanted.
A family fun day will be held at Wytaliba on Thursday, December 19, where Santa will drop off gifts to the children there.
Tarsha and Jaclyn also want to bring gifts to the homeless, women refuges, and children in hospital.
The campaign is supported by DroughtAid and the Bold Trailer and Caravan Repair Centre, Sydney.