American grief and loss counsellor, Alan Wolfet, once said, “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” If that’s true, then the students at Beaudesert State School are sending containers of love out into their community for people who need it most.
The HOPE cooking group was born from a small group of Year 5 students approaching their school chaplain, Jade Cocks, about wanting to help people. After Chappy Jade talked to the staff for ideas, the school’s Head of Special Education Services suggested a cooking group.
“From there the idea grew and it was exciting to see how working with a group of students with a heart for others could then bring such HOPE to so many,” Chappy Jade said.
Chappy Jade, who has been the chaplain at Beaudesert for three years, said the students were deeply impacted by the school’s involvement in Operation Christmas Child last year and wanted to do more.
“The HOPE group is an opportunity to impact so many lives – it helps the students to look outside themselves and do something kind for others while at the same time providing a friendship group where all are welcome and included as part of a team,” Chappy Jade said.
“The group encourages students to look for ways to help others, which results in them finding such a sense of satisfaction and joy. The project is also bringing HOPE and a little light into the lives of those who are going through some really tough times.”
Beaudesert State School deputy principal Liz Watt said the students go about their cooking and giving to others quietly, with no fanfare or expectation of being rewarded.
“This program is a fantastic way to teach the power of service – service to others with no extrinsic reward. It instills a sense that there is always someone else with a higher need than their own, and that every little thing we can do to help others matters,” Mrs Watts said.
“The local community can only benefit from having such supportive and inspiring young people coming up through the ranks, as they mature and take on more challenges to help others.
“Chappy Jade has really developed a positive and powerful force within the student body.”
The HOPE group – made up of 10 Year 5 students, but other year levels are keen to get their hands in mixing bowls too – get together once a week during their lunch break to cook alternating sweet and savoury dishes, which are then put in Chappy Jade’s Freeze-it-Forward freezer, ready to be handed out when needed.
“These meals and sweet treats are for those who are going through some really tough times and facing a crisis,” Chappy Jade said.
The HOPE cooks have so far made quiches, pizza scrolls, brownies and Milo balls, and are planning to make pizza pasta bake, meatloaf, enchiladas, sweet scrolls, choc-chip biscuits and more.
“It has been a privilege to help support families in our local community who are facing some really difficult times such as the loss of a parent, or families going through cancer treatment.
“There is great joy and reward in looking out for others and it is exciting seeing how many people we are impacting through our HOPE project.”
School chaplains like Jade are passionate about helping our young people find meaning and purpose in life, and looking beyond their needs to help serve the needs of others. You can support this great work by visiting suqld.org.au/donate.