by PETER GRACE
Fundraising competition between Auckland colleges has raised more than $21,000 in a few weeks to help people in Syria.

Left to right: Kew McSkimming and Paulse Anithottam (St Peter’s) and Sascha Vesty and Jade Power (St Mary’s) with Caritas Social Justice Education Adviser Gemma Sinnott.
Left to right: Kew McSkimming and Paulse Anithottam (St Peter’s) and Sascha Vesty and Jade Power (St Mary’s) with Caritas Social Justice Education Adviser Gemma Sinnott.

Fundraising between St Mary’s College in Ponsonby and St Peter’s College in Epsom raised money for Caritas-Aotearoa New Zealand. Caritas will use the cash for its Syria focused work.
St Mary’s year 10 student Sascha Vesty said it started with a St Mary’s RE teacher who wanted to do something for people in Syria, “and it sort of escalated from there, and the whole year group got behind it”.
Teachers and students organised a Three Hours for Syria committee, which included students from each class.
The students who took part carried vouchers showing they were committed to carrying out three hours paid work for fundraising for Caritas.
“So we just basically talked about how we could make it into a bigger thing and got the whole school involved,” Sascha said.
Year 10 student Jade Power said that in thinking about how much money they could raise, they realised they could increase the result by involving other schools.
St Peter’s boys came to St Mary’s where a challenge was laid down at assembly. “And all the girls were, ‘We have to beat St Peter’s’.”
Jade said some of the ideas they thought of for fundraising were babysitting and washing cars. “Our form class is washing teachers’ cars next week,” Sascha said.
Many of the students organised bake sales, and some cleaned houses. St Mary’s girls had raised nearly $10,000 as of November 16, but had not given up on beating St Peter’s.
“It’s still going,” said Sascha. “It’s all been this term, really. About six weeks.” They’d wrap it up on November 27.
St Peter’s had a short, sharp project, over two weeks, which raised about $11,200. St Peter’s year 10 student Paulse Anithottam said they wanted to make it short so as many students as possible could be involved.
Paulse said he and other students did garden work, cleaned out garages, cleaned cars. Kew McSkimming said his efforts included washing his mum’s car, his dad’s car and his brother’s car.
Jade said the project was fun, but also stressful for teachers and students. “But I think it has been a great thing to do, just everybody coming together and forming a bond.”
Having exams looming didn’t help the stress. “But the kids from Syria had no time,” she pointed out.
St Peter’s assistant headmaster Hayden Kingdon said they added to the competition by saying that the class that raised the most money would have 500 points added to their house total.
That was won by year 7 with a 93 per cent participation rate, and raising $800. St Mary’s religious education teacher Natalie McPherson said she thought one of the best things about the project was how it had drawn the schools together.
“It has been a great partnership. We don’t always get the opportunity, and this one has been student led,” she said.

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