“Families were doing it tough. Stores were facing food shortages because people were hoarding. There were limits on products, and everyday items were in high demand. There was a real need, and we were able to do something about it.”
When chappies Ross and Mark heard about the food shortages going on in their communities at Emerald and Anakie, they wanted to help.
“People were travelling an hour or more to get into town, just to find that they couldn’t get what they needed because stock was so low,” says Chappy Mark.
To help ease the burden, Chappy Mark and a teacher came up with the idea of bridging the gap for those living out on the Gemfields, by hand-delivering items from town. Chappy Ross was only too keen to join in.
“We approached the stores in town with $500 and some vouchers from local businesses. We asked if they’d remove the limits so we could take product out to the gem fields and they agreed,” Chappy Ross says.
The local Woolies and IGA chipped in with cartons of apples, oranges, bananas and pears, while Coles stepped up by donating bread and some of the local ladies helped out with grocery bags.
“We took a ute – which was piled three crates high with a variety of groceries – out to the gem fields every Wednesday for four weeks. It was incredible,” says Chappy Ross.
“Out in the fields, people were so grateful. There are lonely people out there and we were given the opportunity to give back on multiple levels. Mark and I would pray together in the car on the way up, because we knew it was going to be heavy.”
In smaller communities, Chappy Ross explains that the school is often central to the community, and this means a school chaplain is often considered the chaplain for the community.
“I did some house calls with the principal – and the families were really excited to see us. Showing up with a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk was a simple way to show these families that you’re there for them.”
“I found that a lot of the families had been having the same conversation over and over again, so these visits were a way to share new perspectives.”
“I’ve been a chappy for the last thirteen years, and I’ve watched the community grow over the years. Someone once said to me, “You can count the number of seeds in an orange, but you can’t count the oranges in one seed.” I think that analogy relates to what we do as chaplains. You never know what one kind word can do for somebody – you never know how big that tree might grow.”
It’s because of you that school chaplains can bring hope and encouragement to their communities.
Thank you for making a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.