Charity begins at home

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Pyjama days were one of the many fundraising initiatives held by Sydney Catholic schools in support of the Vinnies CEo Sleepout. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Pyjama days were one of the many fundraising initiatives held by Sydney Catholic schools in support of the Vinnies CEo Sleepout. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Sydney schools support Vinnies Sleepout

Cake stalls, pyjama days, barbecues, Walk-A-Thons and crazy sock days were just some of the fundraising initiatives held by Sydney Catholic Schools in support of Anthony Cleary’s participation in this year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

And so generous was the support, the director of religious education and evangelisation is now 11th on the fundraising leaderboard, with more than $28,000 collected, well above his estimated target.

Mr Cleary said that while the mid-winter temperatures didn’t bother him too much, it was sleeping on the ground that was “a bit hard on the hips and knees by the end of the night”.

He said sleeping on a sheet of cardboard under the stars was a small but important taste of the daily challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness.

And despite the uncomfortable conditions, he said knowing it had “brought children and their parents together” to help others had warmed his heart.

“For me, it wasn’t just about raising money – it was also about raising awareness of the problem of homelessness in our community,” he said.

“Monies were raised in various ways, and many schools themselves had their own Sleepouts.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ director of religious education and evangelisation Anthony Cleary said it was a small but important taste of the daily challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Sydney Catholic Schools’ director of religious education and evangelisation Anthony Cleary said it was a small but important taste of the daily challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“While I have been actively involved in a range of initiatives with homeless people in the past, this is the very first time that I have done the Sleepout which really was great to share this experience with so many other committed people and hear why they were involved.

“The opportunity to be part of something in a very practical way makes you aware of the real difficulties too many people face daily which for us are just small inconveniences.

“Something like getting caught in the rain, if you’re living on the streets it’s not as simple as putting up with being a bit uncomfortable until you get home for a shower and a hot cup of tea.”

To date, well over $2 million has been raised by the 370 participants who braved near-freezing conditions to raise funds and awareness about homelessness.

Marist College Kogarah, St Ambrose Primary Concord West, St Catherine of Siena Primary at Prestons, St Michael’s at Belfield, St Patrick’s Primary at Mortlake and St Anthony of Padua College Austral are among some of the highest donors for the appeal.

Schools’ support, both big and small, was appreciated by SCS Director of RE and Evangelisation

Marist College Kogarah Principal John Reardon said the whole school community had been long-time supporters of St Vincent’s de Paul and was thrilled to be able to support the Sleepout and Anthony Cleary.

He said its donation of $1500 was raised from its annual Walk-A-Thon and “money well spent” to help those in need.

Cake stalls were also held by Sydney Catholic schools in support of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Cake stalls were also held by Sydney Catholic schools in support of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

However it wasn’t just the big money raisers who were singled out, Mr Cleary said he appreciated all the support both big and not so big.

Liverpool’s All Saints Primary School donated a total of $500 from a variety of events including a cake stall and pyjama day.

Religious Education Coordinator Vanessa Boyd said the children really embraced the spirit of giving to those in need.

“We believe it is very important for children to be involved in fundraising events, as it provides them with a sense of empowerment in order to help others who are less fortunate than themselves and a sense of giving without always receiving something in return,”’ she said.

“We have come together as a real school community to help those doing it tough.

“And the children can also see that small actions of donating money can make a big difference in the lives of others.”

Donations remain open until 31 July at https://www.ceosleepout.org.au or donate to Anthony Cleary’s Vinnies Sleepout page.

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