Daily mites add up
Every week Terry Fitzpatrick is a familiar sight at St Patrick’s parish in Lithgow, and so are his famous coin buckets.
As a long-time member of the local St Vincent de Paul Society, Terry is used to seeing a little bit of help go a long way, but even he is impressed by the success of an initiative he began in 2010 to collect donations of loose change, old coins and used stamps to help the needy.
Since then he and his wife Beverley have raised more than $50,000 for more than a dozen Catholic charities and missions including Caritas Australia, Right to Life, the Catholic Enquiry Centre, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Mission Office and Jesuit Mission.
The idea came from a friend who experienced many of life’s hard knocks and was incredibly frugal, appreciating every little bit of help that came his way, said Terry.
“I always remembered that,” he said.
“People are willing to give a little to a good cause and it all adds up.
“The next time there was a fundraiser at the parish I asked the priest, Fr Greg Kennedy, if I could ask people for their five and 10 cent pieces and put two buckets, one at each door. They all gave, and some gave $2.”
Meanwhile they have forwarded thousands of used stamps they have collected from parishioners, friends, family and donors all over the state to Sister Jean Cain rsj at the Perthville convent of the Sisters of St Joseph.
She arranges for donated stamps to be carefully trimmed, packed and sold in lots of 12,500 stamps.
Proceeds go to Mary MacKillop Today for the Josephite Mission in Timor Leste assisting children’s education.
“It’s labour-intensive work but it’s worth it,” said Sr Jean.
“Every stamp makes a difference, I can assure you.
“Even if a person sends one, it means that person’s sending their good will to Timor Leste and every stamp is precious.”
Sometimes quite an exciting treasure turns up at the Fitzpatrick’s such as a recent collection from a deceased estate of old coins including pennies, shillings, threepences, old 50 cent pieces and more.
That donation is destined for Jesuit Mission to help in its work in marginalised communities around the world.