The Vinnies (Society of St. Vincent de Paul) in Australia provide a way to engage the next generation in learning to understand the needs of others.
The Diocese of Broken Bay Australia carries this report on the work of the Mini-Vinnies
The St Vincent de Paul Society (‘Vinnies’) has been using the term ‘good works’ describing it’s Social Justice undertakings for more than 180 years, in fact since it’s inception in France by Blessed Frederik Ozanam in 1833. These ‘good works’ undertaken by the Society are also undertaken by primary school children in our own community.
Many Catholic Primary Schools in the region such as Our Lady of The Rosary Catholic School at Wyoming have formed a Mini-Vinnies group which comprises, on a voluntary basis, senior students at primary school (generally years 5 and 6). These students in their formative years are able to see events around them at school and in their community life which relate to disadvantage, racial, health, social exclusion and poverty in their own communities. Through reflection, discussion, expression and prayer led by the school coordinator, they are able to develop an understanding of social justice and what an individual or group may be able to do to assist those in need. Consequently the group undertake ‘good works’ to put their learning and formation in to action by encouraging the whole school community at OLR Wyoming to be aware of and act to support those in need. These positive actions, undertaken in their own time by approximately 30 student members, can be towards others at the school, neighbours, anyone in the local community or those suffering in other parts of the world. This year the group numbers approximately 30 primary school students at OLR Wyoming.
Our Lady of The Rosary Wyoming Mini-Vinnies recently conducted a ‘Winter Appeal’ through their school community via raffles and a ‘can of soup’ drive to help others less fortunate in their area to rebuild lives, the proceeds of which are given to the Wyoming conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society to assist those in need without judgement. This theme of rebuilding lives is of prime importance to the St Vincent de Paul Society which serves others by offering a non-judgemental ‘hand up’ to those in need in an effort to address immediate needs on the central coast. Mini-Vinnies at OLR Wyoming has been assisting the community through the St Vincent de Paul Society for more than 12 years.
Whilst homelessness is a critical issue on the Central Coast, there are also many with a roof over their heads struggling to make ends meet and to put food on the table due to low and under-employment, rising accommodation costs and high energy and living expenses. The ongoing support of local school programs such as this cannot be overstated and is vital to Vinnies’ role in addressing social justice locally.
St Patrick’s Catholic School Mini-Vinnies at East Gosford recently held a blanket drive for Vinnies with fantastic results and which was most highly sought after by the region. In addition, St John the Baptist Catholic School, Woy Woy are presently holding a drive for blankets, food and clothing whereby all food is given to ‘Mary Macs’ at Woy Woy.