After reading about the Papakura Marae's efforts to support the local community during the Omicron outbreak, teacher Elisabet Monsell-Davis's first reaction was to see how ACG Strathallan could help.
The big-hearted Spanish teacher put plans in place to begin a school-wide food drive, and an email was sent to parents from our Early Learning School through to our College with details about the initiative. Elisabet had hoped to collect several boxes of non-perishable food items from Strathallan families, but what she actually received was staggering.
"We were humbled by the generosity of our parents – the response to the food drive was overwhelming and incredibly uplifting," she said. "I think we were all feeling the need to help our wider community; we all want to help, but we get too busy with our day-to-day activities. All that was needed was for someone to say, ‘let's do something’, and the whole of the community became involved straight away."
Thrilled with the level of donations received, the food drive quickly exceeded all expectations, with families dropping off carton after carton of goods during the three-day collection period. Soon, over 50 boxes of goods had been filled to the brim for the food and isolation packs the marae distributes, ranging from household food staples to toiletries, cleaning and healthcare products.
"From day one, the response from our Strathallan families has been phenomenal," confirmed Elisabet. "The support from our students and teachers alike has been amazing, and I would not have been able to do this without the help of everyone at school. This initiative was started by me but accomplished by all at Strathallan."
One of the student volunteers involved was Year 12 Service Prefect Ellie Quinn. Eager to help, Ellie was responsible for accepting contributions each morning and had a first-hand experience of the sheer volume of goods donated.
"I knew Strathallan families were generous, but the number of donations that poured in was so amazing," she said. "I think everyone wanted to show their support for local families who are finding it hard right now, as we all want to live in a community that rallies together and supports one another when it's needed."
Ellie saw the project through to the end and was one of several students helping to load the cartons into the Papakura Marae's van last Friday. Alongside them was marae representative Aaron, who was "over the moon" with the school's efforts.
"This is exceptional," he explained. "I'm so chuffed it's not funny."
Aaron's delighted reaction over the food drive's success was the icing on the cake for Ellie.
"Seeing his shock and appreciation when he saw the sheer size of the donations we'd raised was definitely my highlight! You could tell how much everyone's kindness and generosity meant to him and the families he assists at the marae."
And while some of our younger students may not have understood the challenges that Covid can present, they certainly recognised how good it feels to help. Mikhail Korobeinikov (Year 2) and his family were keen to support the food drive, making a considerable contribution to the collection.
"It made me feel really happy to bring lots of food for the food drive," reported six-year-old Mikhail. "We wanted to do kind things so people can have lots of food and happy smiles. We are lucky, but some people don't have a lot of things, so it makes me happy to know that some children will go to bed with a full tummy like I do."
*Photographs of the food drive collection supplied by Year 13 student Kevin Fan.