On Christmas Eve 1922, five businessmen walked into a Sydney orphanage carrying armfuls of toys and sweets.
They walked out inspired by a single goal: to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in Australia.
When asked who the children could thank, one of the men, preferring to remain anonymous, said “Smith”.
“What about the others?” the matron asked. “They’re Smiths too”, replied the man.
“We’re all Smiths. We’re The Smith Family.”
And so, The Smith Family was born.
Almost a century later, The Smith Family continues its pledge to improve the lives of the 1.1 million Australian children living in poverty.
Through its annual Christmas Appeal, the education charity is hoping Hunter residents will help raise more than $1.6 million, providing learning and mentoring support for 3,538 NSW students in 2021.
The Smith Family is a national children’s education charity that helps young Australians in need to succeed at school, so they can create better futures for themselves.
Following an immensely challenging year, The Smith Family Chief Executive, Dr Lisa O’Brien, says the education of thousands of young Australians is at risk.
“Even before COVID-19, our families faced acute financial hardship [with] many struggling to access life’s most basic needs.
“This year more families than ever are feeling financial pressure and we’re worried that, as a result, children will have slipped back at school.
“That’s why the children The Smith Family supports really need extra help to keep up with their learning in 2021.”
The Smith Family aims to raise $4.3 million nationally through its annual Christmas Appeal.
This will provide 9,086 children with essential learning and mentoring programs to help them stay engaged at school.
“Remote learning and school disruption has impacted on all students this year, and children living in disadvantage have been amongst those most significantly affected,” Dr O’Brien said.
“When students fall behind in their learning they can become unmotivated.
“This, in turn, reduces their desire to go to school, and our research shows that when attendance slips, so does educational achievement.
“That’s why in 2021 we must make sure students who may have fallen behind their classmates are given the right support, so they can catch up, and stay engaged in their learning.”
The Smith Family offers out-of-school learning and mentoring programs aimed at encouraging children to stay in school, open up more opportunities for themselves, and create better futures.
Along with donations to its Christmas Appeal, The Smith Family is also calling on the community to support its traditional Toy and Book Appeal – which will see nearly 30,000 children supported by The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program receive gifts in time for Christmas Day.
“The Smith Family’s origins lie in Christmas giving and that’s why we’re urging the community to step up this festive season and help change the course of a child’s life by supporting their education to break the cycle of poverty,” Dr O’Brien said.