According to a 2011 national census, there are some 105,000 homeless individuals living in Australia — many of whom have no place to sleep except beneath a tarp or a tent. Of course, other basic necessities are scarce as well. Simple pleasures like a cup of hot coffee in the morning are unheard of.
When North Sydney Girls High School student Cordelia Hsu (New South Wales, Australia) and her fellow classmates heard those numbers, they were spurred on to do do something about them, organizing an effort called Give HOMES, which would increase education regarding the homelessness epidemic and instruct community members on what they might do to help.
“Give HOMES (hope, opportunities, motivation, education, support) was a 2014 campaign run by 14-16 year old girls, targeted at spreading awareness and education around the issue of homelessness in Australia and providing people outside the project means to take action and donate,” wrote Cordelia back in April. After the group’s original plan — a “sleep-out” at the school which would demonstrate to students what it would be like to be homeless — fell through, they were forced to focus their efforts in a different direction. According to Cordelia, it went swimmingly.
“We collaborated with St. Vincent De Paul and their Brekky Van volunteering project [and] made a clothing donations box shaped like a house to leave in the school’s foyer,” said Cordelia, explaining that the group of classmates had put together the large wooden box all by themselves (with the assistance of a shop teacher, of course). “Students and teachers alike were asked to donate clothing in relatively good condition in a plastic bag with their class on it, and the class who donated the most amount of clothing would win a pizza party funded by us. We left the box in the foyer for 9 weeks and when we emptied it, the box was filled to the brim with clothing.”
In addition to building their donations bin, the girls also created multiple social media pages on which they posted information about the homelessness problem plaguing the country for others to read up on. To aid in their overall efforts, the group put together two videos, which were later played at a school assembly. One, said Cordelia, even featured a song composed and performed as a backing track by classmate Belinda Zhang.
“You can do anything,” wrote the group in one of their videos, a motivational reminder to their fellow students that even the smallest gestures mattered. “You can give ‘HOMES.'”
For their kindness, positivity, and (literal) hands-on approach, Cordelia and her classmates at North Sydney Girls High School have earned a spot on our 2015 Class Act runners-up list. Way to go, girls!