Charity begins at home has been given a whole new meaning for students across the archdiocese.
The Family Educator Team have thrown their support behind raising not only funds but awareness for the disadvantaged and those sleeping rough on Sydney streets and are appealing to school communities to assist.
The Family Winter Sleepout @ Home initiative invites families to take time to engage in conversation, experience the discomfort of being on the cold, hard ground at night and to pray together as a family for those without safe, secure housing.
Family Educator Team Leader Meredith Lemos said the benefits for young people learning empathy and altruism are well documented.
She said the initiative was asking families to sleep / sit outside in the cold for a period of time with only cardboard to sit on and discuss as a family how the homeless must feel and just as importantly how they can help.
“There is quite a lot of research to support that kindness toward others causes us to be happier, improves our health and actually lengthens our lives,” she said.
“Doing kind things for others is good for both our physical and emotional well-being.”
“Doing kind things for others is good for both our physical and emotional well-being.
“Informing families about homelessness, through the different parts of this interactive family event, empowers them to make a difference to the terrifying, growing numbers of homelessness in our community.
“This is a great opportunity for families to spend time together to raise awareness and be advocates for the homeless and is another way the Family Educator Project is strengthening links between families, schools and parishes.”
The initiative involves four tasks:
- Make a card, write a message and attach a snack and return to school
- Come together as a family and make some soup for when you are sleeping or sitting outside
- Experience what it’s like on the street. Use cardboard to sleep on and drink soup to keep warm
- Come inside, light a candle and pray for those who are homeless
Using the new Vinnies Fundraising Portal, Family Educators can enter their own school team which allows them to decide where the money they raise goes, whether that’s to assist with short term housing solutions, or supporting the Night Patrol or the Brekky Van services.
Tony Cranney, Sydney Archdiocesan Central Council President for St Vincent de Paul, said he welcomed the support by school communities from across the archdiocese.
“Besides raising the awareness of such a serious social issue as homelessness, it also educates the general public and gathers ongoing support to work towards eradicating homelessness,” he said.
“The money raised through this fundraising supports many refuges, which houses thousands of men, women and children who would otherwise be on the streets.”
“The money raised through this fundraising supports many refuges, which houses thousands of men, women and children who would otherwise be on the streets.
“It also assists our members who support everyday Australian families who have fallen on hard times, avoid eviction and are at risk of becoming homeless.”
To support the appeal go to the fundraising page here.