Care for Kids
August 2023 - $20,000 Community Grant
IT IS unimaginable to think that children in this day and age are sent to school without shoes and socks, breakfast, a jumper during winter or have head lice so bad that their head is bleeding. This is sadly the reality for a small number of students who attend Urangan Point State School.
That is why the Hervey Bay RSL Grants Committee didn’t hesitate to become a major sponsor of the school’s chaplaincy program which has provided “chappy” Carmen Pampeyan with an extra day per week for the next 12 months, thanks to a $20,000 grant. This means that Carmen will be on hand for three days rather than two to provide care for the 1/3 of the students who so desperately need her support.
Carmen ensures that there is toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, give shoes, socks and clothing for the kid’s feet, much of which is donated by generous community members including Woolworth and Brumby’s Bakery in Urangan. “There’s always emergency sandwiches in the freezer for lunch because some of the kids don’t come to school with any food at all,” Carmen said. “We have 75 kids that have toast two mornings a week and when it’s cold that number increases.”
Principal Matt Winter said the extra financial support is vital not only for the children’s wellbeing but also for their mental health. “The assistance that chappy gives these kids is wide and varied,” he said. “Some kids have very difficult home lives. We have many families going through divorce, domestic violence and homelessness. “We’ve had one little fellow that is coping with three deaths in the family in a short time and those sorts of things have a big impact on them with anxiety.”
Matt said education is not the only aspect of schooling for teaching staff today with so much more going on behind the scenes which is why the chaplaincy program is so vital. “The public don’t see that there’s this tremendous community need, feeding the kids, cleaning their hair, dressing them. “With my principal lens on, the ultimate role of school is education but that can’t happen if you have head lice so bad that your head is bleeding or your feet are so cold because you don’t have socks on.
“We are just so grateful for what the RSL has done because the funding means that chappy has an extra day to have more time with these kids, plus take the pressure off her.” Prior to the extra funding, chappy’s extraordinarily big workload meant that on paper she only had three minutes to spend with each child. She now has the time to assess each child’s need and offer specialised programs, calming picnics, games, crafts and much more.
“It (funding) means that I can do extra programs and see extra kids and that is the whole point,” Carmen said. “Two days a week was just not enough. It was very overwhelming because there are some very heavy issues so having that extra day is definitely making a difference. “Time is one of the most precious gifts I can give and the RSL grant has given me that.”
Carmen recalls one special moment in her role when students were lining up for the bus to attend football for Gala Day. The children had their footy boots tied to their bags ready for the game, except for one young lad who chappy knew couldn’t afford a pair of his own. Having four children of her own and a good sense kids shoe sizes, she ran back to her office, grabbed a pair of brand-new donated Nike boots which she tied to the young boy’s bag because he “forgot his boots”. “His smile was just so big,” Carmen said. “He could go to the gala day and be like the rest of the kids. It’s sometimes not just the needs, it’s the wants as well.
“For that student to feel like the rest of his other friends is a huge deal.”
The generosity of the public donating these kinds of items is imperative to Carmen being able to provide the best possible outcome for the most vulnerable students.
Community groups like MACE Wide Bay (Motorcyclists Advocating Child Empowerment) have donated to the chaplaincy program and the Urangan CWA ladies are the queens of donating socks. Carmen said every little bit goes a long way and any assistance with school uniforms, socks, shoes and items like hair products, brushes and creams for the girls new SHINE program would be greatly appreciated. “A pair of socks might not mean much to the average person but to a child with cold feet, it makes such a difference.
“There are so many different ways to assist but the easiest thing is a small donation of shopping gift card, especially coming into Christmas so we can do Happy Hampers for families.
“We are all about kindness and we want to be a school that cares about each other.”