Reaching out to refugees

Charity begins at home … and ends with nine carloads of donatable goods!

This was the experience of families at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School North Sydney who have shown their faith through action by generously donating much needed-food and toiletries to the Jesuit Refugee Service Australia (JRS).

St Mary’s Primary School North Sydney parents Jaytee Agapito and Amber Quin and child with Jesuit Refugee Service director Carolina Gottardo

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School North Sydney parents Jaytee Agapito and Amber Quin and child with Jesuit Refugee Service Australia director, Carolina Gottardo.

JRS is an international Catholic organisation, offering dignity and hope to refugees through emergency assistance in shelter, food, casework, employment, legal and school engagement areas.

St Mary’s reached out to the JRS during the COVID-19 pandemic, breaking bread in spirit by providing food relief to more than 300 households – or 800 people – many of whom are ineligible for JobSeeker and JobKeeper benefits.

“The generosity of the parents exceeded my expectations,” said St Mary’s Family Educator, Linda Curtis, who coordinated the drive.

“The generosity of the parents exceeded my expectations” – Linda Curtis

“The generosity not only included the donation of food and toiletry items; it also included the drive out to Westmead from North Sydney to deliver the items, and some parents continuing to volunteer on an ongoing basis,” Ms Curtis said.

She said students’ actions have reflected those of Australia’s first Catholic saint Mary MacKillop who, in 1871, uttered these meaningful words: “Never see a need without doing something about it.”

St Mary's Catholic Primary School North Sydney parents Eilish Reville and Felicity Clarkin loading up donations in the school carpark

St Mary’s parents Eilish Reville and Felicity Clarkin load up their car with donations for the Jesuit Refugee Service.

“We have a special devotion to Mary MacKillop, having celebrated her feast day (8 August) with a special Zoom assembly,” Ms Curtis said. “We feel privileged to be so close to her resting place, here in North Sydney.”

St Mary’s has continued their relationship with the JRS by holding a take-home Welcome Refugees colouring-in competition and establishing a pen pal relationship between St Mary’s students and JRS refugee families, Ms Curtis said.

The JRS is always looking for volunteers. For more information, call them on (02) 9356 3888 or email info@jrs.org.au.

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