By Ashleigh Green
Baked beans and creamed corn will be swapped for fresh fruit and veggies for the most disadvantaged families in Sydney this Christmas.
A Gift of Goodness has just launched in Sydney Catholic Schools, with students and teachers busy supporting CatholicCare’s new approach to the traditional Christmas hamper.
Instead of bringing in tins of food, the students have been asked to make a donation which will buy fresh fruit and vegetables for those in need. For just $25, beautifully packed hampers of seasonal produce will be distributed across Sydney.
Mikaela, a Mount St Joseph Milperra student, said the fresh fruit and veggie hampers were reflective of our changing society.
“I think it is really good that our Church is providing disadvantaged people with what they need rather than what we want to give,” she said.
One of those recipients is 85-year-old Gloria who is battling glaucoma. Her son, who has an intellectual disability, has lived his whole life with her and requires constant care. Gloria’s eyesight has now deteriorated to a point where she struggles to see and meet her son’s needs without support.
“The Christmas hamper I received last year was such a surprise. It was lovely and it really helped,” she said.
Chief executive officer of CatholicCare, Mark Phillips, said the fresh food hampers were a very welcome contribution to those facing isolation, crisis, poverty and hardship at Christmas.
“When the good people at Harris Farm Markets offered to help us improve the nutritional value of the hampers we jumped at the opportunity to create these Gifts of Goodness,” he said.
The hampers will consist of in-season, long-life produce such as bananas, apples, mandarins and beans as well as pantry staples such as potatoes and onions. Popular grocery items such as spaghetti sauce and pasta will also be included.
And as well as donating money towards hampers, school students will be sharing their favourite family meals on recipe cards. Hamper recipients will have everything they need to create a nutritious meal, along with a special Christmas treat.
All produce will be provided by Harris Farm Markets at cost price. Once funds for 400 hampers have been raised, excess profits will go towards vital programs that help vulnerable families beyond Christmas time.
The Milperra school community will be working around the clock to pack and deliver the Gift of Goodness hampers the week before Christmas.
School Social Justice and Youth Ministry Coordinator Dominique Farah said the school was passionate about providing opportunities for the students to live out their Catholic values.
“The girls love working with our Catholic agencies and seeing where our hard work goes,” she said.
“It’s fantastic that we can provide fresh fruit and vegetables for disadvantaged families … it will really make Christmas special.”
For the students at Our Lady Queen of Peace at Gladesville, giving to those less fortunate is no new concept.
Year Four student Valentina is grateful for an opportunity to help people facing hardship.
“When I was eight-years-old I used to be really careless. But when I turned nine-and-a-half I started thinking more about my actions and how I spent my money,” she said.
Valentina hopes that Gift of Goodness will be an opportunity for her classmates to learn about the importance of giving.
“I think this is a great idea,” she said.
Principal at the Gladesville primary school, Karen McGinlay, said she is thrilled to be given the opportunity for her school to support the work of CatholicCare.
“CatholicCare caters for everyone. It provides services from birth to the end of life,” she said.
“I hope that the generosity of the community at Our Lady Queen of Peace will mean a brighter Christmas for those who go without.“
To make an online donation, visit www.giftofgoodness.com.au