CatholicCare’s Sally Butler with JRS representatives, Afghan refugee Zaki and Schools Engagement Coordinator Anne Nesbitt
St Thomas Aquinas Primary Springwood put faith into action this Refugee Week through support of the work of Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS). In partnership with CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, this caring school community ran a JRS Food Drive and students learned more about what it means to be a refugee.
Year 5 students Nicholas and Lillian were happy to have the chance to help people in need.
“I realised how much all this food could help and potentially save the lives of so many people that you’ve never even met before,” Nicholas in Year 5 said. “You get the feeling that you’ve done some good in the world.”
“I feel really amazing for all the food we collected because it can really help someone that needs it more than we do,” Lillian said. “There’s people out there who are homeless or who are really sick. We’re a big community so it’s nice to be able to do something about it.”
The Faith in Action team helped collect and pack up all the donated food items
Thirty students active in the school’s Faith in Action team got very involved in organising food drive logistics. This included visiting classrooms and reminding everyone what the food drive is all about and collecting any items that have been brought in.
During school celebrations of Sacred Heart Day, the Faith in Action Team displayed some of the food drive items. Father Shinto Francis referred to that during the Mass and his homily highlighted the importance of being like Jesus, using our hands to help other people and show them love just as the school had been doing by supporting JRS.
The Faith in Action team put some of the food items on display at the Sacred Heart Day Mass
Senior students also heard from JRS representatives Anne Nesbitt and Zaki, an Afghan refugee who shared his own story of survival. St Thomas Aquinas Primary Springwood Religious Education Coordinator Virginia Fortunat said that students learned a lot from listening to Zaki.
“Some were moved enough to talk to JRS and offer to volunteer for them during the school holidays,” Virginia said. “They did that out of their own initiative and are going to go and help pack bags and food items.”
Afghan refugee Zaki gave a powerful talk to students about life as a refugee
JRS operates a Food Bank in Parramatta that supports refugees and asylum seekers who are in need in the community. The Food Bank feeds nearly 1000 hungry people each week, so the groceries collected by the community of St Thomas Aquinas Primary will be very welcome.
Writing messages of support was one of the initiatives students from Catherine McAuley Westmead undertook for Refugee Week
Some of the other Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta schools supporting the work of JRS include Catherine McAuley Westmead where Year 10 students are writing cards with messages of support, kindness and solidarity to go with items collected for another food drive. St John Paul II Catholic College, Schofields & Nirimba Fields, St Patrick’s Primary Parramatta and Catholic Learning Community of St John XXIII Stanhope Gardens have all also been busy collecting blankets for those in need this chilly winter.