Taking time to give back
The future of a charitable organisation that has been helping the poor and needy for 150 years looks bright if the everyday efforts of a group of Taranaki schoolchildren are anything to go by.
This year marks 150 years since the The Society of St Vincent de Paul was established in New Zealand. As a global organisation, about 800,000 members work to help 30 million needy people.
Joining this voluntary effort is the work of about 40 schoolchildren from St Joseph’s Catholic School in New Plymouth.
They give up their time at morning tea and lunch to raise money for the charity, including running cake stalls and mufti days.
Known as The Young Vinnies, the group raises on average about $2000 a year.
Member Hugo Chylek-Peters said the group had recently helped out at the Foodbank, packing up groceries to give out to people.
While it felt good to help, the 11-year-old said it had been sad to see people who struggled.
‘‘It makes me appreciate what I have,’’ he said.
The feel-good factor was also high for Logan Chant, 11, who didn’t mind giving up his playtime for the greater good.
‘‘I really enjoy helping out others around the world,’’ he said.
There are six St Vincent de Paul groups, known as conferences, in Taranaki, the earliest of which was established within St Joseph’s in New Plymouth in 1908.
Every year, the charity helps hundreds of people around the region, including providing hot meals, help with medical costs and assistance to pay the power or phone bill.
Money raised by the Young Vinnies, along with profits from the organisation’s Fitzroy based op shop, help it carry out its charitable works.
Bob Goodyear, who is part of the St Joseph’s New Plymouth conference, said along with the Young Vinnies group at St Joseph’s school, another branch has recently been set up at Sacred Heart Girl’s College.
A youth wing in Stratford is also in operation.
He said a local celebration to mark the 150th anniversary would be held at St Joseph’s Church Hall in New Plymouth on October 1 at 12pm. The occasion is open for members, volunteers and anyone who was formerly part of the organisation.
A national celebration is also planned in Christchurch between October 13-15.
The Young Vinnies from St Joseph’s School in New Plymouth; back, from left Ridge Court, 10, Hugo Chylek-Peters, 11, Max Bowe, 11 and Brayden Hughes, 11. Seated in front, from left Maia Toss,10, Keita Simpson, 10, Olivia Perry, 10 and Logan Chant,11.