Rallying behind Lismore

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St Ursula’s College students with their donations collected by the school for the flood-devastated town of Lismore. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove students with their donations collected by the school for the flood-devastated town of Lismore. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

 

There may be almost 800 kilometres between Kingsgrove and Lismore, but a Year 12 student is doing everything she can to bridge that gap by supporting the northern NSW community devastated by the recent floods.

Living the Ursuline school charism of service to others, St Ursula’s College student Mia Topen has initiated an urgent appeal to help those who have lost everything in the deluge, now declared a “national catastrophe” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

A strong advocate of Catholic social teaching, the Year 12 student said she couldn’t just sit back and watch the devastation unfold in the area without offering some assistance.

“Watching it unfold on social media, I felt so upset, sad and shocked and knew I had to do something to help.”

Currently more than 3000 homes remain affected by floodwaters and around 270 people are staying in evacuation centres, while thousands of others are relying on family and friends, sleeping in spare bedrooms, caravans and garages.

Mia said she asked her school to get behind the struggling community in the midst of the biggest crisis the Northern Rivers area has seen, and they responded with the Lismore Flood Relief Appeal.

Donations of non-perishable food items, baby items, sanitary products and miscellaneous products including blankets, toilet paper, torches, batteries, radios and gumboots are now being collected by the school.

St Ursula’s College student Mia Topen, centre, has initiated an urgent appeal to help those who have lost everything in the recent floods. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
St Ursula’s College student Mia Topen, centre, has initiated an urgent appeal to help those who have lost everything in the recent floods. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Mia said all donated items will be sent directly to the people of Lismore, to help them work through the clean-up which will take months, even years to complete.

“The devastation is unbelievable with the long term effects to be felt for many years to come,” she said.

“Watching it unfold on social media, I felt so upset, sad and shocked and knew I had to do something to help.

“Every year we do a lot of fundraising initiatives here at St Ursula’s, but rarely do we respond when something devastating like this happens.”

“In the spirit of Lent and giving alms, I felt it was something of large importance, and believed that the student body would be very willing to donate to the people living in Lismore … and they haven’t disappointed.

“Every year we do a lot of fundraising initiatives here at St Ursula’s, but rarely do we respond when something devastating like this happens.

“I guess my desire to help others is very much encouraged by my school’s Ursuline charism of service to the community.

St Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, inundated by floodwaters on 28 February, 2022. Screenshot: Diocese of Lismore

“I am just so happy the school has helped me turn this into a reality and we are able to help.”

Mia has aligned with Koori News, a not for profit and self-funded newspaper based in the heart of Lismore which provides aid to all members of the local community, both indigenous and non-indigenous.

College principal Mary Leask said she is incredibly proud of Mia and the entire school community for their practical Christianity in action.

“This is exactly what we are working towards here at the College – instilling in our students a want to be young women of action …”

“Serviam – I Will Serve” is the motto at St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove, and there could be no better way to live that out right now, as thousands are impacted by horrendous flooding in NSW and QLD, than by pulling together to act in service of others through this appeal,” she said.“Mia was the spark of inspiration that lit the fire of action, and I am immensely proud of her.

“She has shown great initiative and compassion in coming to the College with her ideas, which are in service of others … what an impressive young woman.

“This is exactly what we are working towards here at the College – instilling in our students a want to be young women of action who challenge themselves and others to make a positive difference and create a better future for all.”

If you would like to support the appeal, contact [email protected]