An 11-year-old from Nar Nar Goon North has taken the initiative to form her own campaign to help homeless people and has called on schools nationwide to support her cause.
Charlotte O’Sullivan’s concept of Small Change For A Small Change centres on collecting five and 10-cent pieces. She has raised more than $1400 in 10 days to be donated to the disadvantaged in the community.
Charlotte has thus far donated money to The Soup Place, Melbourne, that encourages a pay-it-forward system to donate soup and bread to people sleeping rough on the city streets.
She also hopes to donate to Berwick St Vinnies Soup Van and Orange Sky Laundry, Dandenong, which washes homeless people’s clothes free of charge.
“Part of the process at The Soup Place is that besides donating a $3.50 pay-it-forward soup meal, you also get to write a message on a post-it note for the person your soup meal would go to, to make them feel a bit better and cared about,” Charlotte said.
“After seeing that, I discussed with my mum other, more effective ways to help so I decided to write a letter to my principal to ask if she would support me if I created a campaign to raise more money for this good cause.
“I know that people don’t always have a lot of money to spare and I thought that just giving loose small change that was lying around at home – in their handbags, under couch cushions or in their cars – might be a lot easier because loose change doesn’t go very far these days.”
Inspired by the work of local volunteers, the 11-year-old formed her own campaign that asks no more than a minor offering from each donor.
After its initial launch, Charlotte was disheartened to have raised just $8 from collecting change from her peers at school.
But during the following week, the school opened up a discussion about the campaign’s cause and students wrote short stories about how it would feel to be homeless.
“They were very touching stories,” Charlotte said.
“Not everyone has been able to give money, but one of the students in my class donated her Subway lunch order money because she said ‘what’s the point of me having Subway for lunch when some people can’t even afford a meal.’
“Many children also donated their leftover change after the Mother’s Day stall last week, which has helped.
“By the end of the second week, our school had raised $1137.30 and I was so very proud. We could afford to buy 220 pay-it-forward soup meals at The Soup Kitchen and donate at least 60 homeless washes through Orange Sky.
“Kids fund-raise at school for overseas causes without knowing they can help people in their own community. I have seen my classmates start to learn and think about this issue and that is a good thing as we grow up. So can you imagine how much of a difference it would make if every primary school raised money for a soup kitchen or shelter in their own area?”
Charlotte hopes to expand her campaign to other primary schools as well as secondary schools across Australia.
She is in the process of creating an information package that can be emailed to students or schools to help get them started.
“I really want to see primary schools and maybe even high schools and colleges all around Australia participate in the Small Change campaign and for them to donate the money to cafes or other charity programs in their area.
“I would like teachers and principals to talk about it and introduce it to their schools. I would like children to see what their five cent and 10-cent pieces can do when they add up to big quantities and for them to write caring notes to people in need.
“Small change adds up quickly. You don’t have to buy anything or sell anything. You just have to find small loose change that is probably doing nothing at home and put it to better use.”
Charlotte said more information could be found at facebook.com/smallchangeforasmallchange.
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.