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SchoolAid to help victims

SchoolAid to help victims

SchoolAid to help victims

By Bill Hoffman

 

Sunshine Coast schools have been urged to get behind a typhoon fundraising appeal that promises to bring as much to those who take part, as it will benefit the desperate souls left homeless and without provision by last week’s disaster.

Telstra Sunshine Coast area manager Sean Gordon gave that guarantee to those who supported the efforts of SchoolAid, a program he developed initially in 1999 to support Turkish earthquake victims while he was still a NSW primary school principal.

Mr Gordon, who was principal of Brisbane’s Nudgee Junior College before entering the corporate world, said SchoolAid was founded on outreach that helped victims, inreach that benefited those involved in supporting outreach and to connect all Australian schools in a common purpose.

The program now involved 4000 of Australia’s 6312 primary schools, more than two million students and teachers and delivered $865,570 support to 2010 Victorian bushfire victims and $916,000 in support for 2011 Queensland flood relief.

SchoolAid allows Australian school children to work collaboratively to make a difference when confronted by overwhelming tragedy.

“Kids learn they can make a difference by engaging,” Mr Gordon said.

“They look at the images in the media of what’s happened in the Phillipines and think they can’t do anything about it. But they can do something. Even the humble sausage sizzle or $100 from every school teachers’ lunch room collectively can have a big impact.”

Mr Gordon was teaching at Bega when he led the team of 70 SES volunteers who after 26 hours found and rescued ski instructor Stuart Diver, the sole survivor of the 1997 Thredbo landslide that killed 18 people.

Two years later he saw the Time Magazine cover of a woman’s hand protruding from the rubble of the Turkish earthquake that prompted him to start SchoolAid. He’d seen the same image for real at Thredbo.

Mr Gordon said the fundamental reason for SchoolAid’s existence was that it showed young people they could really make a difference in the face of seemingly impossible situations. Ninety percent of every dollar raised goes directly to relief, was fully accounted for and students could see what their efforts had achieved.

Schoolaid.org.au allows schools and students to engage in charity projects.

This article was originally published by the Sunshine Coast Daily in November 2013.

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