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St Joseph’s students encouraged to give to Vinnies

The children of St Joseph’s School Narrandera had a very giving Lent this year.
18 May 2017

The children of St Joseph’s School Narrandera had a very giving Lent this year.
Every day for the 40 days of Lent, the St Joseph’s students would bring in one item a day to donate to St Vincent de Paul.
It was the brainchild of teacher Melissa Lewis.
“I was after a project that the Year Sixes could take on for Lent. Normally for Lent you choose something to give up, like chocolate or fizzy drink, but we wanted to find something that was a bit more inspiring – that would help people.”
Ms Lewis had very strict instructions about the quality and the condition of the goods up for donation.
“So we would try to donate something that we had used, but was still in good condition so they could be sold and would benefit the community. And the teachers and the teachers’ assistants were all in it as well.”
Ms Lewis led by example, donating items not only for herself but on behalf of her 20-month-old son as well.
“People would look at the things I was bringing in and saying, ‘you’re giving away that?’. But I’d tell them that we weren’t using it and we didn’t need it, which happens a lot when you have a baby.
“We had boxes with everyone’s name on it around the room, and they added to their box. It wasn’t compulsory. I didn’t force them to do it, or make a big thing out of it if someone didn’t bring anything in. If a kid only brought in ten items, then it was still ten more items for Vinnies that they didn’t have before.”
Ms Lewis said that not every child could contribute; some had recently moved and had already donated their surplus books and toys to St Vincent de Paul.
“Some whom I thought wouldn’t contribute did, and got really into it.”
The boxes grew, as children brought in more items that didn’t always fit, and more boxes had to be added.
“I think the Year Six teacher was happy for the classroom to be back to normal!”
Ms Lewis is now starting the Wednesday lunch club, where Year Six students will take the time to share a skill with younger students.
“We’re stepping out of that selfish bubble, trying to get the kids to think ‘it’s not all about me’. Whether or not it’s making any difference I don’t know, but even if just one family decides to get into the project next year for Lent then it’ll be great,” Ms Lewis said.

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