Students from St Therese’s Primary School, New Lambton spread some much-needed joy this week to children who’ll be hospitalised over the Easter weekend.
The youngsters, armed with hundreds of delicious chocolate eggs, dropped into Ronald McDonald House and then the John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle to put smiles on many, many faces.
And, the response to the visit was overwhelming.
“It always warms my heart to see the generosity of children, giving to others,” Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW marketing and communications coordinator Jody McLucas said.
“It’s with this kind of support [of the community] that Ronald McDonald House Newcastle can continue to keep families together when their child is seriously ill or injured.
“Each night, 18 families call Ronald McDonald House Newcastle ‘home’.
“The Easter gifts the children have provided are a big help towards bringing them some happiness during what could, often, be a difficult time.”
St Therese’s Primary School, New Lambton assistant principal Kaylene Maretich said she was so proud of her students, as they continued to put the needs of others first.
“Many of us have family or friends who were affected by the bushfires of 2019-2020, COVID-19 restrictions and the associated job losses and, more recently, flooding rains,” she explained.
“This raised awareness in our pupils of the difficulties life can throw at us.
“Groups of senior students organised their own fundraising for issues important to them, headed up by organisations such as Guide Dogs Australia, the Cancer Council, the World Wildlife Fund and the Bushfire Appeal.
“As we entered Lent, and contemplated the sacrifices Jesus made for us, the pupils wanted to focus on what they could do to help others.
Ms Maretich admitted even she was “blown away” by how many eggs they received from the St Therese’s Primary School community.
“Ordinarily we receive lots for our annual raffle,” she said.
“But, when families found out that this year we would instead be donating the eggs to Ronald McDonald House and the John Hunter Children’s Hospital, we had an entire room at the school filled with Easter eggs.
“It was extraordinary.
“Members of our staff worked over the weekend to bundle them up nicely, ready to present them [today].”
Year 6 school captain Pip Allen said it was “really amazing” seeing just how happy people were to receive the eggs.
“I’m actually surprised by how many eggs we were able to donate, there are a lot here,” she stated.
“It’s important to help others in need; particularly those who are sick or don’t have enough money to buy eggs.
“Now they can still get to experience some of the joy of Easter.
“We hope the children have a great day, and have fun eating their chocolates.”
Her fellow school captain George Hartcher echoed those sentiments.
“An important reason we donated the eggs was to make other children happy,” he said.
“I remember how excited I have been waking up on Easter morning to see eggs, thinking ‘oh my goodness’.
“Now, we’ll be able to share that feeling with others.
“I was quite happy that we decided to donate the eggs, rather than having an Easter Egg raffle like we normally do, as it’s an opportunity for us to make other people happy.”
1991 marked the inaugural program for Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW, with the opening of Ronald McDonald House Newcastle.
Since then, they have initiated Ronald McDonald House in Tamworth; three Family Rooms – one in Gosford Hospital and two in the John Hunter Children’s Hospital (J1 Ward and NICU Ward); Ronald McDonald Family Retreat Forster; and the Ronald McDonald Learning Program.
“Through our accommodation and support services, we strive to keep families together when life gets turned upside down due to a child’s illness,” Ms McLucas said.
“Our Ronald McDonald House Newcastle, on average, provides a home away from home for more than 600 unique families each year and almost 10,000 unique families since we first opened our doors.”