You’re never too young to make a difference.
Just ask 11-year-old James De Szoeke who herded his whole school community together to help the state’s desperate farmers this week.
The inspiring Year 6 student from St Fiacre’s Primary School in Leichhardt persuaded students to swap uniforms for flannelette shirts, cowboy hats and boots and take part in the Fiver for a Farmer fundraiser currently taking the nation by storm.
The small inner-city school of around 120 students helped their country cousins to the tune of $730 – adding to the incredible tally of more than $250,000 raised in just two weeks.
James said he decided to support the campaign following a visit to his grandfather’s Dubbo farm during the school holidays.
“It was pretty bad, there were dead sheep and cows everywhere, so I knew I needed to do something to help,” he said.
“What we are seeing on TV is one thing but it’s not until you actually go there that you see how bad it really is.
“I suggested to my teacher that we get involved and everyone has been amazing, even though we are only a small school, I can’t believe everyone decided to get involved and help. I am very proud.”
Principal Catherine Cameron said she was delighted to roll up her sleeves and support the farmers who are doing it tough.
She said it had been fabulous watching James go from classroom to classroom explaining why it was so important they help.
“James and the whole school community have been just terrific, from day one everybody was onboard and ready to help,” she said.
“For a relatively small school I couldn’t be more proud of what the school, and in particular James, has been able to accomplish.”
And James isn’t the only young person showing you can make a difference at any age.
Fiver for a Farmer campaign brainchild Jack Berne is just 10 years of age and managed to garner the national support of around 400 schools, 250 preschools, 150 workplaces and even a mention in Federal Parliament by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The incredible young man from St John the Baptist Primary School on Sydney’s northern beaches said he still can’t believe what he has achieved in such a short amount of time.
“It’s really awesome, it’s just been amazing being able to help the poor farmers who need it so badly,” he said.
“We have been learning about the drought and the farmers and I heard there are kids skipping school so they can help out on their farms so I decided I had to do something.
“I wrote an email to every TV station, newspaper and radio station that I could think of begging for help. Before I knew it all these schools and businesses were coming to me wanting to support it.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me and the farmers I know they really do appreciate it.”
Principal of the Freshwater school Judy Slattery said she was so very proud not just of Jack but the whole school community for what they have achieved.
“Initially Jack was so moved by what he saw he wanted to do something and that feeling very quickly spread,” she said.
“We have challenge-based learning here and part of that was a call to action to help the environment – and help we certainly did.
“We are very blessed to live where we do so we wanted to pay it forward and help others not as fortunate.”
All money raised through the campaign will be divided equally between Rural Aid and Drought Angels.
If you’d like to support the campaign you can donate up until the end of August at https://afiverforafarmer.com.au/
Putting their best foot forward for farmers
Odd socks may drive us crazy, but the children at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Earlwood, have used them to help their country cousins in tough times.
The school has raised more than $1000 with a ‘crazy sock’ fundraiser held as part of its St Mary MacKillop feast day celebrations.
The money will go to assist pupils at St John’s Primary School in Cobar.
Our Lady of Lourdes Year 6 teacher Nicole Meehan said the children had been researching the drought afflicting central and northern NSW as part of their science and technology unit on natural disasters, and decided to look up a Catholic school in the region.
“This was the children’s way of following Mary’s famous quote of never seeing a need with doing something about it,” she said.
“On August 8 they gave a gold coin for the chance to wear whatever socks they wished on the day, and there was also everyone’s favourite – a lolly jar guessing competition.”
Ms Meehan said that the next step would be cementing the connection between the two school communities with chats and interviews via Google Hangouts to complement their educational programs and form friendships.