17 April 2024

Marian Catholic College students 'energised' by feeding 200 Griffith families in need

| Oliver Jacques
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food kitchen making meals

Marian Catholic College students joined Carevan recently to help prepare meals. Photo: Supplied.

Marian Catholic College students are collaborating with a local Griffith charity to prepare meals for those in need, an initiative that sees them cater to up to 200 families on some nights.

Griffith Carevan, a volunteer-run mobile van that cooks and serves nutritious meals for community members every Wednesday at the Griffith Community Centre, was recently joined by the students from Years Seven to 12 offering their assistance.

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Additionally, staff and students have formed their own community action team to prepare meals and deliver them directly to families in lower socio-economic areas.

These initiatives have been driven by the school’s cultural liaison officer Sanita Lole.

“We’ve been doing this since 2015. I told the students, ‘Don’t do this because you want an award or credit; you’re here because you want to help someone and give back’.

“The students are very energised. They’re learning about the foundations in life on how to provide for their community. That’s how you become a leader in our school.”

Pacific Islander dance group

Ms Lole has also organised Pacific Islander dance group performances. Photo: Facebook.

The full process of operating a not-for-profit program is put into practice.

At first, they collect recycled bottles and cans, deposit them in the Return and Earn depots and get the money to buy the ingredients at Foodworks to make the meals.

Marian’s chef Matt Gatt then directs the kitchens as the students prepare the meals before they are delivered to those in need.

“We are not only passing on a vision for care and compassion, but we are caring with no judgment, reaching out to cultures, generations and socioeconomic backgrounds and creating a sense of belonging around the dinner table,” Ms Lole said.

Marian staff leaders Maureen Shannon and Gabriel Abdala and Carevan co-ordinator Janice Sartor have also played key roles in making the program happen.

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Ms Lone also coordinates a number of other initiatives in which students help the broader community. Last year, her efforts were commended in NSW Parliament by NSW MP Helen Dalton.

“Today I recognise Sanita Lole, an exceptional member of the Samoan and wider community in Griffith,” Ms Dalton said.

“A truly multicultural woman. Sanita is indefatigable in her position of Cultural Liaison Officer and Pastoral Care Worker at Marian Catholic College. She works hard to include students in a huge variety of projects.

“Outstanding are: Project Samoa, coordinating Year 12 students to help source educational supplies and raise funds and physically help to rebuild and renovate the Sisters of Mercy primary and secondary schools in Samoa. Fundraising in the aftermath of the Tongan tsunami and the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. In addition, Sanita encourages students to support interagencies, with active involvement in Meals on Wheels, headspace, Carevan, Safe Haven and Linking Communities.”

Ms Lole also helps run an IT for Seniors program. Tech savvy Marian students go to Griffith City Library to help pensioners who struggle with things such as internet banking, social media and navigating government online portals and services.

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