Scouts in the giving spirit for charity
Published Tue 19 Dec 2023
The festive season is an opportunity for many people to give back to their communities.
For Scouts NSW members, dedication to and support of their community forms a key part of the youth program.
Youth members are encouraged to “create a better world” through participating in the development of society and learning through practical experiences and activities.
In the lead-up to Christmas, Scouts as young as five from across NSW have been doing their part to support people in need.
Scout Groups have been holding a variety of donation drives to support those less fortunate, from collecting toys and food to donating blood.
Read some of their stories below.
1st/2nd Merrylands sharing joy with Ronald McDonald House Charities
Cub Scouts at 1st/2nd Merrylands Scout Group were thinking about sick kids facing Christmas in hospital as they collected six boxes of donations.
The boxes were full of new toys, Christmas gift tags, cards, wrapping paper and anything else Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) would need to make up the presents for the children.
The Cubs chose the charity for their donation drive partly because it was down the road at Westmead and familiar to them, but also because they could all put themselves in the shoes of a sick child and empathise with their situation.
Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Western Sydney provides life-changing holistic support to families with seriously sick and injured children, providing a home-away-from-home to more than 1500 families each year.
“It’s important to support RMHC because they’re giving a home away from home for the families of the sick children so they can all be together,” Sophie Penisini, 10, said.
“The children may have left their toys at home and are feeling sad, so the toys we donate will bring them happiness.”
JB O’Brien, 9, agreed, saying: “RMHC can give the families a Christmas with presents they can share with their mums, dads and kids.”
Kaysanne Lockman, 8, said it was important to care for people who need help.
“Not all kids get toys from their family because they can’t take much with them when travelling to hospital and other family can’t be with them to celebrate Christmas. It also makes kids feel special and cared for when in hospital,” she said.
The donation drive was held throughout the term, with the final six boxes donated last week.
A RMHC spokesperson said: “The support of the Merrylands Cub Scouts and their toy drive will help brighten the lives of patients and their families who will call Ronald McDonald House Westmead their home this Christmas.
“The toy donations are placed in our Christmas Cave, where families can come past to choose presents for their kids for Christmas. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the community and Merrylands Cub Scouts who helped fill our Christmas Cave and spread the Christmas Spirit to our families.”
From Wood Badge project to community drive
Over at 1st Carlingford Scout Group, all age sections were doing their bit to gather items for The Sanctuary – The Hills Women’s Shelter.
What began as a “reverse Advent calendar” for Jorja Baker’s family and their friends – buying one item every day to put in a box to be donated – turned into a Wood Badge project for women and children facing tough times.
After a flyer was dropped in the letterbox of her mentor Leonie Plummer, the pair attended a community event to learn more about the organisation. Hearing stories about women and children who left domestic situations with nothing was an emotional and “mind-blowing” experience.
“The things I didn’t realise were kids wouldn’t be able to use their Opal cards, because a parent can track where that is being used,” she said.
“They have to close down all their socials, some won’t have access to their bank accounts because they can be tracked. It means children can’t go to the school they normally go to. It’s such a foreign concept to me – I was blown away with what people go through in their lives. It was confronting to think they and their kids take whatever they can carry and go.”
Jorja said it was hard to talk to the Joeys about the shelter in a way they would care about and understand, but without sharing the gravity of the situation the women and children are in. While the Joeys may not have understood the concept, their parents and other section Leaders did, pushing the donation drive with other members.
“We collected anything that was shelf stable – cans of tomato, pasta, pasta sauces, long-life milk, flour, cake mixes, anything that could be kept. But we also branched out a bit and had people buying presents for children, because we’re coming up to Christmas and it’s a difficult time to feed everybody and give other presents as well,” she said.
“We donated clothing and beautiful, handmade quilts as well. The Sanctuary were so thrilled, because they can put them on some people’s beds and they would be able to keep them.
“As long as it was new, we accepted it. The Sanctuary is for people who are displaced and want a real feeling of home. I am so appreciative of all the donations made and the support of the other Leaders for pushing the drive with their sections as well.”
Jorja said the representative from The Sanctuary who received the donations was “incredibly grateful”.
“When it came time to collect, she came out and spoke to the Joeys. She was emotional and we were emotional. It will make a huge difference to the people and the children,” she said.
“Not a lot of people know about The Sanctuary because you can’t go there, you can’t volunteer there, so there’s not a lot you can do to support them, but this we could do. It was just a case of popping a couple of extra bits and pieces in when shopping.”
The donation drive inspired one family to also make a “substantial” cash donation to the organisation to support them in the future.
The project will now become a community project for 1st Carlingford from next year, a development of which Jorja is proud.
Rovers roll up their sleeves for blood drive
Rover Scouts from across Australia have been enjoying the cordial and bikkies at Red Cross donor centres for the last three months.
The National Rover Scout Blood Drive (formally known as the Rover Plasma Challenge) is an opportunity to help support the Red Cross by donating Life Blood to those in need. The initiative has been run for many years, with Rovers from across NSW continuously pulling up their sleeves to donate.
This year, Sydney North Region Rovers have smashed the competition, making more than 70 donations of whole blood and plasma since September 15 – saving more than 220 lives – with Mt Dandenong Region Rovers trailing in second place with 50 donations.
The donations make a huge difference in the lives of Australians:
- One plasma donation can be used in 18 different life-saving treatments and each donation can save three lives
- One in three people will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime. That’s 29,000 blood donations needed tome the weekly demand.
This year, Rovers have made about 370 whole blood, plasma and platelets donations, with more than 116 coming from NSW Rovers. That saves about 1104 lives!
Well done, Rovers!
Christmas toy drive by Dulwich Hill Rovers
Scout Groups in South Metropolitan Region have been showing their generosity over the past month as part of 1st Dulwich Hill Rover Scouts Christmas Toy Drive.
In their first toy drive, the Rovers were endeavouring to donate 100 presents to charity. As of 18 December, they were close to their target, having already collected 92 presents with several days still to go.
Donations had been made by:
- Summer Hill Scout Group
- Burwood Scout Group
- Drummoyne Scout Group
- 2nd Enfield Scout Group
- Canterbury Vale District Venturer Unit.
“A special shout out goes to Rachel, a Cub Scout from Drummoyne who organised the toy drive for her Group and achieved an SIA (Special Interest Area) for her work in wrapping and collecting presents from the Group,” he said.
“The age range of presents was between a few months to 18 years old, with gifts to be distributed to charities that cater to these age groups.
“The gifts donated to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead were greatly appreciated.”
Sharing the Dignity through donation drive
Share the Dignity works to make a real, on-the-ground difference to the lives of women, girls and those who menstruate who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, domestic violence or poverty. The organisation distributes period products to those in need and work to achieve menstrual equity in Australia.
This year, with the help of the Sydney North community, the Rovers donated 51 bags to this cause.
They were not alone though – the 1st Austinmer Scout Group Venturer Scouts also donated 37 bags in their Region.