Schools and parishes across the Diocese have been raising funds for Ukraine in recent weeks, using imaginative and creative ideas. At St Bonaventure’s School, for example, pupils hosted a soup kitchen while at Brentwood Ursuline blue and yellow ribbon pins have been made and sold to raise funds. Other schools have made badges and had non-uniform days. And parishes like Romford have had bake sales and sponsored walks, hosted quizzes and raffles.
Assistant headteacher Alice Baird explains that the impetus at Brentwood Ursuline came from the students themselves. “They said they really wanted to do something and one student began it by sourcing blue and yellow ribbons off Amazon and making pin badges at home. It was a lovely idea – the students loved raising awareness through wearing them. A £1 donation for each one brought in many hundreds of pounds, which was split between CAFOD and Caritas.” The students and their parents went on to gather donations of bedding, medical supplies and food for onward transport to the war zone, she added. “Our Justice and Peace Group are leading the appeal, sorting through donations and selling the ribbons in their own time. They are coming into school early to ensure they can maximise their efforts. Our school motto is ‘Duty’ and they are excelling themselves in raising awareness for this emergency appeal. We all felt better for being able to do something.” The school had raised nearly £800 by the middle of March and made several large donations of goods to nearby collection points.
At All Saints, Dagenham, a non-uniform day earlier in the month raised £2,003 for those in need in the Ukraine war, while a similar event at De La Salle, Basildon raised £1,592, with another £90 coming from badges made by staff members Mrs O’Connell & Mrs Donovan. St Thomas More in Southend is also raising funds this week through the wearing of something yellow and blue.
Meanwhile, St Bonaventure’s School in Forest Gate made their non-uniform day a celebration of culture with pupils and staff wearing clothes reflecting their heritage. “We raised £1,227 including gift aid for the culture day,” says Deputy Headteacher, Andy Lewis, “50% of which went to the Ukraine CAFOD emergency appeal and 50% to the CAFOD general emergency fund.”
The school’s Year 10 and 12 Chaplaincy Team also organised a Family Fast Day simple soup lunch in support of the CAFOD Ukraine Emergency Appeal and managed to raise a wonderful £425. Caterers Olive Dining provided the broth and a roll lunch to make certain all money went to the worthwhile appeal. School Chaplain Ms Ali was grateful for all the support. “If we can help CAFOD in just this small way to support those poor souls suffering hardship, homelessness and despair in Ukraine we will. They remain in our prayers every day,” she said.
Parishes have been raising funds too. Alongside donations of many practical items, the Cathedral Parish collected £2,308 for the people of Ukraine at the beginning of March, and is organising a support group for host families. In the first week of the conflict, Wickford parish raised £1,300 for Aid to the Church in Need’s appeal to help minister to people in need in Ukraine. Fr Mark Reilly said he was really impressed by the goodwill and generosity of his small parish. On Mothers Day, Romford parish said special prayers for the mothers of Ukraine and held a collection and fundraising event, selling badges and home-baked cakes.
Siân Thomas, our Caritas Brentwood Coordinator, is encouraging others to take part in fundraising. She says: “Why not consider how your school or parish could take part in some creative fundraising, as another way to support the people of Ukraine. This is a great way to share the value of doing things for others, inspiring people, and strengthening ties within your local community. Or if you are already doing things, please let us know so that we can share this good news.”