St Joseph’s Primary School teacher Katie Macansh has been talking with students a lot about homelessness and poverty in the world, but said some children have difficulty grasping that such suffering can happen right here in Tenterfield.
The volunteers at the St Vincent de Paul Society deal with such issues on a daily basis, so Mrs Macansh is helping the students put a face to the issue by introducing students to the St Vinnies volunteers and seeing what they do.
“A lot of the students think St Vinnies is just a shop,” she said.
The school has a large continent of students in its one-year-old Mini Vinnie group, so a small group of these members will travel down to St Vinnies each fortnight during their lunch break for a first-hand view of what goes on there. The visit by the group executive on Friday, August 11 was especially significant with the school donating three swags for St Vinnies to pass on to those in need.
Two of the swags were paid for through a variety of school fundraisers including a footy fun day and school discos, helped by a special deal through supplier Wilshire and Co. Wilshire’s also came on board donating a third swag to the cause.
The students received a behind-the-scenes tour of St Vinnies by volunteers Julie Hampson and Marlene Feltis. They explained how the op shop is just the face of the organisation’s conference services which provide welfare support in the form of food and help with phone and electricity bills, and sometimes prescriptions and even glasses or funeral costs.
“No-one is ever turned away,” Mrs Hampson said.
Food supplies are shipped up by the pallet-load from Sydney several times a year, and local donations are supplemented from St Vinnies’ distribution centre in Armidale.
Mrs Hampson encouraged the Mini Vinnies to carry on the welfare work, harking back to the roots of the organisation established by Frederic Ozanam.
“One man can make a difference,” she said.