10 August 2011
In response to a Dominion Post article in June about the lack of wet weather gear and food for some children at a school in the Hutt Valley, the St Joseph’s Upper Hutt Justice, Peace and Development group invited members of their parish to make a gold coin donation for the school.
The newspaper reported on June 13 that a programme set up to distribute food and clothing to children in decile one to four primary and intermediate schools is struggling to meet the demand with about 11,000 children a day missing out on food. KidsCan chief executive Julie Helson says for some children, the donated food was all they ate all day.
KidsCan would feed about 4400 each day this year.
The cost of living had increased and a Red Cross breakfast programme had been cancelled, which added to demand, she said.
Such poverty was the country’s ‘hidden shame. I don’t think people realise just how big the issue is in New Zealand and, where poverty exists in pockets, it’s very easy to ignore.’
St Joseph’s JPD group has also collected warm clothing, jackets and shoes with the support of two other Hutt parishes. The response was beyond all expectations and the generosity of the wider Catholic community was heartening. When the school was contacted about the appeal, they were grateful for the support.
They had also received some help through others who had responded to the newspaper article and asked if the money and collected clothing could be shared with other schools in the area in similar situations.
It was decided to share the donation among three schools.
The group decided on the collection because members felt that, where there was an identified need in their local neighbourhood, they should try to respond appropriately.
The decision to respond was made knowing that not all of the many needs can be addressed, but where a response is possible, members felt they should step out in faith.
Justice calls for a response to a need but also to ask why some children in New Zealand are living in poverty.