How can children collecting coins make a difference in the lives of those impacted by the global food crisis? Find out how students at the Belmont Christian College are taking on the 345 Challenge.
23 Aug, 2023
For over 25 years, Belmont Christian College in New South Wales has partnered with Compassion to be good neighbours and help release children from poverty. Staff and students at the school sponsor a total of six children and hold an annual fundraiser to help put their faith into action and raise money for vulnerable children.
Coins for Compassion is a highlight of the calendar and brings the whole school community together. Primary School children start collecting coins at the beginning of the year and, on the day, line up all their coins in their class groups. The winner is judged as the class with the longest line of coins and gets rewarded with a pizza party. The Secondary School students fundraise by holding a fun fair on the same day, including rides, food and music which is a community-centred and fun way to raise money for a worthy cause.
This year, the school decided to participate in the 345 Challenge. In addition to fundraising for their sponsored children, the school extended the Coins for Compassion day to help families impacted by the global food crisis.
For primary teacher Sue Fryer, it was the perfect opportunity to teach their students about the grave reality faced by many people around the world right now.
“We wanted to educate our kids about what's happening in the world today as a result of COVID-19 and other factors,” says Sue.
“We felt it was important for our kids to not just learn, but to also raise money for those in need. So this year we've jumped on board the 345 Challenge and we're aiming to raise $3,450 on top of our sponsorships.”
Global hunger is on the rise at an unprecedented rate. At least 345 million people worldwide are facing acute food insecurity—a 250 per cent increase since 2019.
Because of the crisis, the number of people around the world with insufficient food has increased exponentially. According to the United Nations, the world is moving backwards in the fight against food security and malnutrition.
Children are often the worst affected—hunger upends the lives of children in poverty and undermines holistic development.
The 345 Challenge is an opportunity to fundraise on behalf of the 345 million people facing acute food insecurity. The challenge empowers everyday Australians to not just hear about the crisis but to take action by fundraising to support the work of Compassion’s local partners who are already responding to the crisis.
You can take on the challenge of either performing an activity for 345 repetitions or choose to give up something, like social media or TV for 345 minutes a day, over a week. You can also make up your own challenge to suit your passions. Workplaces and schools can get involved in the challenge as a whole organisation and find that it’s a great way to build culture, raise awareness and fundraise at the same time.
Nyssa Potapczyk, a Secondary School teacher at Belmont Christian College, finds Coins for Compassion popular among staff and students for this very reason.
“They know it's fun for them. They're happy to be on board and build our school culture,” says Nyssa. “It’s community building for our college, but they also they know the greater reason why they're doing it—for a community beyond theirs.”
The teachers also emphasise the benefits of partnering with Compassion for their students They say Compassion helps to build attributes like being empathetic, generous and compassionate, all of which they want their students to embody.
“We want them to demonstrate grace and mercy, be advocates for the vulnerable, be salt and light and servant hearted. That’s all part of our graduate attributes,” says Sue Fryer. “Through Coins for Compassion, among other things, that's what we're teaching our students.”
Sue tells the story of Frank in Year 5 who contributed $200 to the Coins for Compassion initiative. Frank told Sue that he had raised the money by saving all his pocket money, chore money and gifts all year. When asked why he wanted to bring all of his savings to donate to the children through Compassion, Sue says Frank shrugged his shoulders and said, “they need it more than I do.”
Jack O’Toole is also a student at Belmont Christian College. He is currently in Year 12 and considers engaging in the 345 Challenge a privilege.
“It's a really good cause and I'm honoured that I'm a part of a school that is able to contribute to such an amazing cause,” says Jack.
“I've been to the Philippines and seen the types of conditions that people are living in. And to know that our money is going to help people in need is heartwarming. To be a part of something that's bigger than myself is really an honour.”
Compassion’s partnership with schools goes beyond fundraising. The aim is to empower schools to reach students on three levels: heart, head and hands. Creating avenues to connect students in meaningful ways helps them engage with global issues on a deeper level and understand God’s heart for biblical justice. Throughout the year, Compassion works with schools to facilitate learning in the classroom but also in chapel and smaller group settings. It’s a partnership that helps students discover the heart of God for the marginalised and how we are called to respond as followers of Christ. Through information and stories provided in educational resources available to schools, and campaigns like the 345 Challenge, Compassion seeks to empower students to put their growing faith into action.
This is something Dave Gray, the Director of Mission and Community at the school is grateful for.
“Through our partnership with Compassion, we provide opportunities for our students to put legs on their young faith journey,” says Dave.
“Turning something that can be theoretical into something that is practical enables us to show kids what it looks like to be a disciple in the world and to act out Christ's commission.”
Dave says it’s a privilege for students to be able to think beyond themselves, to look outside of Australia and impact young people around the world. The resulting benefits for their students and faculty is part of the reason Belmont Christian College has continued their long-term partnership with Compassion year after year.
For any school considering partnering with Compassion, Dave has some encouraging words: “Do it. Do it yesterday!” says Dave. “It is a critical part of outworking your vision and mission as a Christian school.”
“Compassion brings with it history, credibility and a partnership that will support you as you outwork your school’s vision and mission. They are great to work with. We consider Compassion our extended team and we have been with them for over 25 years.”
Indiana Thornton, a student in Year 4, sold lemonade and cookies to collect coins for the fundraiser. She loves writing to the children the school sponsors and also finds great joy in receiving letters back detailing their lives, friends and chores. Indi says they also send stickers and bookmarks they make in class along with their letters. For Indi, the reason for getting involved with Coins for Compassion is simple:
“If we don’t support them, then who will?” she asks.
You too can join Indi and the Belmont Christian College to make a difference in the lives of children and families impacted by poverty. No initiative is too small– we can all make a difference. After all, as Belmont Christian College demonstrates, every coin counts!
If your school or organisation would like to partner with Compassion, please email our Business Development Team at email@example.com or call us on 1300 22 44 53.
Words by Sidhara Udalagama, with photos by Jake Thomas.
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