Australia — SHOWING compassion and maturity beyond their years, St Therese School students raised more than $5,000 to reach out to NSW Bushfire victims
Students, teachers and parents were more than happy to give after seeing the devastation caused by a fire that swept through the Blue Mountains’ towns of Springwood and Winmalee on October 17.
The fire destroyed more than 200 homes including those of four staff and 14 students from St Columba’s High School and St Thomas Aquinas Primary.
Both schools had to be evacuated on the afternoon the fire hit, and the high school’s HSC students had to travel to McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains to complete their exams.
In the days and weeks following the fires, more than 35 Sydney Catholic schools began fundraising for the Parramatta Diocese Bushfire Appeal and between them raised $53,000.
At St Therese, school captains’ Noah Azzopardi and Gemma Pantaleone were inspired by the words of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, “never see a need without doing something about it,” when launching their school’s bushfire appeal.
In the week when fire fighters were still trying to contain fires in several areas of the Blue Mountains, on the Central Coast and in the Newcastle area, they spoke at the school assembly.
“Many fire fighters are working long hours and in difficult conditions to help those in need,” they said.
“We are asking students to do some jobs around the house or for others, and in return the money you earn can be donated to this worthy cause. Remember no donation is too small. Let’s try and make a difference to the lives of those who need our help.”
Kylie Irwin, Year 6 teacher at St Therese, said the fundraising initiative was conducted by the whole Student Representative Council (SRC) with the Parents & Friends (P&F) donating $1000 cash to the fund.
She said traditionally, students have been given Christmas gifts from the P&F, however, this year families decided they would like to see the money go to people who need it.
“The culture of the school has always been one of outreach. The students are seeing needs and are independently taking it upon themselves to do something about it,” she said.
“It is great to see that they don’t need material rewards as they are gaining something intrinsically through helping others. We had a number of students donate sums up to $100 from their own personal savings which was beautiful to see, and overall we raised just over $5,000.
Gemma said that she donated $50 from her own pocket money to help those who lost their homes, their belongings and everything they owned.
“There is really no way of getting those things back,” she said. “They need it more than I do.”