When Victorian dairy farmer Jason Smith raffled a heifer to raise money for Dolly’s Dream, he was supported by fellow dairy farmers from around Australia.
The 2017 Young Farmer of the Year, Jason – who runs a farm with stud Jersey and Illawarra cows in Simpson, a small town in the Western District – said he’d always wanted to do something for Dolly’s Dream but didn’t know how to go about it.
“I’ve encountered bullying off and on right throughout my life, particularly when I was younger working out my sexuality, and even later in life,” he said.
“I don’t understand what people get out of it and I’ve had depression because of it. I just wanted to stop one of the factors that lead towards this. If you’re bullied at school, it will stay for the rest of your life.”
Jason decided on raffling one of his heifers.
“I had this pretty good calf. I’d imported her grandmother as an embryo from Canada. Then the thought popped in my head: what about if I put it up for charity?”
As Jason is the president of the Simpson & District Lions Club, the raffle was held through there.
“We started in March this year and the intention was to have the draw in June but that was delayed because of COVID-19,” he said.
The tickets began to sell, and ended up raising $7,500, with tickets being bought from every state in Australia that has dairy farms.
“The smallest sale was one $5 ticket; a local farmer bought $500 worth. We’ve had people send cheques, posting cash, but most people donated online. And we had so many really lovely comments about Dolly’s Dream.”
In the end, more than 100 people donated.
Jason said he was very happy with the result.
“It’s a fair bit of money,” he said. “It’s the most amount that the Simpson & District Lions Club has donated to one charity in the history of the club. And, in the end, it was a local who won!”