In the run up to Christmas, Santa’s many mountain helpers found themselves literally ‘up to their ears’ in Welcome Shoeboxes. Due to an avalanche of generosity and welcome from young people in the mountains, over 203 special deliveries were made to children and young people from refugee and asylum-seeking families living in the community in Western Sydney. Extra special seasonal deliveries were also made to those in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre to help brighten their Christmas.
Noeline Nagle said she wishes that the students could have seen the absolute joy and delight on the faces of the children as they found yet another item in the shoeboxes.
Annabelle and Alana ( pictured below), two inspired young women from Winmalee High, conjured up the brilliant idea of the Mountains Youth Shoebox Project whilst on Work Experience with Sue Campbell-Ross at the Mountains Youth Service Team. Sue then contacted BMRSG and a great partnership was formed.
Capturing the imagination of our young people, the project snowballed. So many shoeboxes and goody bags were collected, checked and delivered we literally lost count at 203. The response was stunning, exceeding expectations in every way. With something to love, something to play with, something to wear, something for school, something for personal hygiene, and something special inside, the box contents were amazing. Each one obviously chosen and crafted with thoughtfulness and care, by young people for young people. There were even boxes for babies and expectant mums. However, it was the moving messages of friendship, hope, welcome and support which surpassed all else. ‘That was the thing I liked most’ said Anisha, one newly arrived 10 year old, holding her special card and red envelope aloft after breaking into smiles every time she uncovered a new gift in her box.
Special thanks go to Rose Glassock, Regional Guidance Officer with The Blue Mountains City Council, the indefatigable Sue Campbell-Ross from MYST; to Ashley Symonds of Serendib Craft Link and adults from United Voice for the generosity of their additional gifts; to the many individuals who furnished wrapping paper, sticky tape, empty shoeboxes and their considerable time to collect check and deliver the shoeboxes. But most of all to the amazing young people ( and staff!) of Springwood High School, Katoomba High School, Winmalee High School, Blaxland High School, Blackheath Public School, Korowal School, Glenbrook Centre, we can’t thank you enough. What an overwhelming testament to the kindness, empathy and generosity of young mountains folk, working together for the benefit of others.
Here’s to further partnerships in 2016. Can we do it again next year ? Perhaps we will need to order a super-sized sleigh from Santa to help with deliveries.
Report from Jackie Mayers (BMRSG Helper)
Many thanks also to Jackie Mayers for her crucial role and untiring efforts to enable this initiative to happen. (Editor)