The students at Paddington’s St Francis of Assisi primary school take their motto – In Giving We Receive – very seriously.
The school had more than 100 pieces of furniture it no longed needed, including desks and chairs, so rather than taking the easier and far less costly option of disposing of them, they decided to raise the money to have it shipped 15,293 kilometres away to those in need.
With more than 60 per cent of all Nigerians living in poverty, the school decided the west African nation would be the ideal destination and set about raising the $5000 needed to transport the huge shipment.
They began a “work for money” drive where pupils did jobs around the house to raise funds. Emptying the dishwasher, watering the garden, cleaning their rooms, clearing the table and even one young kindy student recorded “got dressed all by myself” – no job was too big or too small. If it could raise money it was done.
And it wasn’t just the students who got involved. Last weekend about 40 teachers and parents volunteered their time to load the furniture onto a truck to carry the prized cargo to the warehouse ready for departure.
All agreed it was not only the Nigerians who benefited from the appeal. The students and teachers alike spoke of a renewed sense of appreciation for how fortunate they are and how good it feels to help others.
School captain Alessandro Biles said he now understands the true meaning of the school charism “in giving we truly receive’’.
He said raising the money to send the furniture overseas “felt really good” and made their parents happy at the same time.
“The Nigerians got the furniture, but we got the satisfaction of making a difference while making our parents happy for helping out around the house. So much good came out of it,” he said.
“Although we weren’t given something we could physically touch we could feel it in our hearts. That feeling of doing something for others is very satisfying.
“The whole school worked together as a team. The student leaders spent a lot of time going from classroom to classroom explaining why the whole thing was so important.
“I guess what we did was just what Jesus would do.”
It’s not the first time the small school of around 200 students have supported the west African nation of about 186 million people. Last year they shipped their old school uniforms, laptops and even a photocopier to a very thankful Nigerian community.
Principal Nicole Harris said the initiative showed the children what can be achieved when they work together as a community.
And she agreed it wasn’t only the students who learnt a valuable lesson.
“The initiative began after multiple conversations between staff and the students about how the old furniture was going to be disposed of,” she said.
“The students couldn’t stand the thought that they might be thrown away in a rubbish tip so we all put our heads together and came up with an idea to raise the funds in a way that aligns with our school motto, In Giving We Receive.
“We are very privileged and this initiative was one way of reminding them how fortunate we are and how important it is to reach out and give to others.
“Our parent and staff community played an important role in volunteering their time over the weekend to load the furniture into trucks and send them on their way to the shipping container.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for all of us as a community to give back and help others.”