It’s a time for giving gifts to our loved ones, but how can we extend the Christmas spirit to those in need? This December, Corpus Christi Catholic High School Oak Flats are brightening the season of goodwill for families in the Shellharbour region through their generous donations of hampers to the St Vincent de Paul Society's Christmas Hamper Appeal.
As the end of the year approached, students were asked to donate gifts, food items and decorations for local families who are struggling financially. Each class was provided with a basket that was labelled with genders and ages of a specific family from the Shellharbour region – and their response was inspiring.
According to Corpus Christi’s Social Justice Coordinator, Rachel Filan, who led the efforts alongside Brendan Newton, President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Shellharbour, over 60 Christmas hampers were donated collectively. The appeal is part of the school’s social justice program which encourages students to raise awareness about a range of social, justice and ecological issues.
In addition to supporting vulnerable families, Corpus Christi teamed up with CatholicCare Wollongong, the social services agency of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong, to provide Christmas gift bags and hampers for their aged care clients.
In the preparation stages, clients were asked to suggest a wish-list of items they would like to receive in their hampers: candles, body wash, puddings, tea towels, face washers, mugs, single bed sheets, toiletries, Coke Zero, nuts, chocolates, toothpaste, brushes, tin ham, shortbread, crossword puzzles and thongs.
Thanks to an abundance of donations, CatholicCare were able to visit over 140 aged care clients to deliver gifts. They prioritised socially-isolated clients who will spend Christmas day alone, in addition to those with serious health problems including blindness, diabetes, anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from active duty in the First and Second World Wars.
“Some clients will not see anyone at Christmas other than the workers from CatholicCare,” said Miss Filan. “The students and staff from Corpus Christi hope to brighten Christmas day for these special people in our community and make them feel loved and cared for.”
This isn’t the only act of generosity that Corpus Christi has organised this year. In the wake of the recent bushfires, the school raised money on Bushfire Appeal Day. The Social Justice Committee collected $2600 from a school-wide mufti day, BBQ and money tins. A donation was made to the St Mary’s Milton community who are supporting a number of families who have lost property during the recent fires. St Mary’s Principal, Lindy Nelson, said the school community was "overwhelmed with this enormous generosity". A further $1600 was donated to the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal.
In 2020, the school will continue their commitment to strengthening partnerships with mission, justice and welfare agencies that enhance the engagement of Catholic school communities with the marginalised. As Miss Filan explained, “Corpus Christi has a strong history of supporting various charities and agencies and brightening the lives of those suffering hardship.”