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During the last week of Term 2, 100 students and 20 staff braved the cold winter night to participate in a Saint Vincent de Paul Winter Sleepout at St Matthews Catholic School in Mudgee.

This was the culmination of a Winter Appeal that included donations of food, money raised and the sleepout. Beginning in Week 7, our students were encouraged to donate staple items that could be stored and shared with the less fortunate in the Mudgee Region this winter by the local St Mary’s SVdP Conference. Students were asked to contribute tinned goods such as baked beans, soup and vegetables, tea, sugar, cereal and pasta.

Along with the donations, our students in Years 5-12 were invited to participate in a sleepout. The students were informed of statistics of homelessness in our region and state and participated in games including Belongings, where they discussed what they would keep if they were homeless and finally an activity where they had to problem solve whilst also being moved on by ‘police ‘or ‘park officers’. The most moving part of the night came when we welcomed a local family who had experienced homelessness and had been assisted by SVdP.

This was surreal for so many as the family shared their hardships that seemed so far removed from our students. From here it was dinner and bed. The temperature dropped to near freezing at the coldest point. Awakened to a slight frost, our students then reflected on the night and how their efforts were so important for so many and embraced the words of Theresa of Avila “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hand but yours, no feet but yours”.

The remaining school students then wore mufti and pyjamas on the final day of the term in return for a gold coin donation.

In total, $6216 was raised for the SVdP winter Appeal and the school community donated over 1800 cans to the Mudgee SVdP. As we delivered the cans, our proceeds had already gone to work and had been shared with 3 people.

We would like to thank all participants and our wonderful St Matthews families for their donations. We would also like to acknowledge the Mudgee Coles and Mudgee Woolworths who kindly donated hygiene supplies that the students were able to create packs for people in our region which were then shared amongst SVdP and the recently opened Barnados Mudgee.