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Renee and her one-year-old son Rory receive a hamper from St Catherine of Siena Primary School students Ashleigh Thompson and Lander Angeles. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

Gone are the days of the old food drive which filled Christmas hampers with baked beans and tinned fruit salad.

Students of Sydney Catholic schools have been doing a ‘wholesome’ lot of good by teaming up with Catholic Care to get fresh and healthy hampers to people who would otherwise not enjoy a special Christmas dinner.

Through a partnership with grocery chain Harris Farm Markets, hundreds of delighted recipients were blessed last week with a week’s supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and grocery items including the traditional Italian Christmas cake known as a panettone.

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This is the second year the program has operated with 85 Catholic schools across the city fundraising to meet the costs of the hampers.

Tony Farley, executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools, said that the generosity shown by students is “testimony to the Gospel message being lived out” in the schools.

“Every person deserves dignity, respect and the chance to celebrate Christmas in a special way,” he said.

David Parawa, principal of St Catherine of Siena Primary School at Prestons, said that the student leaders helped to drive the school’s campaign with enthusiasm and encouraged their fellow students to raise the funds themselves. “It really enforced what they have been learning in their religious education classes, bringing the Gospel message into life,” he said.

“The great benefit of this program is that the hampers are going to local families and it’s good for our kids to know that while a lot of them are fairly comfortable there are people living side by side with them who are doing it tough this year.”

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