12-18 August is National Student Volunteer Week, and Vinnies is using the opportunity to highlight the work of the hundreds of amazing student volunteers who manage their studies, part-time work and other commitments in a way which allows them to give back to the community.

“The St Vincent de Paul Society has a proud tradition of engaging with student volunteers. Founded by a group of university students almost 200 years ago, student volunteers remain an invaluable part of the Society and will go on to lead and drive the Society in future decades,” said Erin MacArthur, Director of Community Engagement, St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.

“Our youngest volunteers are primary-school aged ‘Mini Vinnies’ who assist with fundraising, and sorting and packing material donations for people in need,” said Ms MacArthur.

“Hundreds of secondary school students volunteer in numerous ways including in our Vinnies shops, on the Night Patrol vans, as role models for disadvantaged children in out St Joe’s Youth program, or fundraising through our annual Doorknock Appeal.

“Students from over 20 secondary schools in the region are also instrumental in collecting material goods that are distributed through Vinnies programs and services,” she added.

“There are about 30 students from the Australian National University that conduct home visits, support our Migrant and Refugee Program, cover regular shifts at the Thread Together Clothing Hub @ Vinnies, and volunteer for the Night Patrol van once a month.

“We also rely on over 160 young people to run our St Nick’s Young Carers Program and St Joe’s Youth Program. These are respite and recreation programs for young people either with caring responsibilities at home, or who are experiencing poverty and disadvantage. In the last year these students have run 11 holiday camps, more than 15 weekend activities and 2 Christmas parties for our program youngies, as well as linking them in with other recreational and educational activities,” added Ms MacArthur.

One of these students is Laura Condon who has been volunteering with the St Nick’s Young Carers Program for about two and a half years, and is currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Education at University of Canberra.

“My role involves reaching out to the volunteers about upcoming opportunities with activities, camps, and training. I have also lead two of the camps, and a few of the monthly activities,” said Laura.

“My favourite part about volunteering with the St Nicks program is being a part of a team that helps the children grow and develop into incredible young people through the care, help, and guidance that we can provide,” she said.

Laura has kept coming back to volunteer with St Nick’s because, “These children need a consistently caring adult in their lives, so I don’t want to let them down.”


12 August 2019