A group of Cronulla High School students are heading up a charity initiative to support disadvantaged young people in the community.
They are part of a leadership project - the GEM Girls program, and the aim is to fill 100 backpacks with essential items that will be donated to young people who are at risk of homelessness, supported by Project Youth.
GEM stands for Goal Driven, Empowered and Motivated. The program's mission is to empower students with information and strategies to help promote their leadership potential.
It was developed by Menai High School's Nikita Ryan. She launched the program for students who experienced challenges in life. Now her idea has trickled into other schools, with Cronulla High the latest one to take it on. Since starting at Menai, GEM Girls is also offered at Heathcote High School.
Cronulla High School's Student Support Officer Amy Guld, is helping to facilitate the program.
Students take on a community engagement project. They choose an area they would like to support, and choose organisations they would like to work with.
Through their work so far, the Cronulla team has secured a donation of backpacks from SDS Miranda, and a $500 cash donation from The Rotary Club of Cronulla. Most recently they headed up a meeting with a Modibodi executive and secured a donation of 100 menstrual care items to include in the packs.
To raise more funds the GEM girls have created donation drop boxes their school and selected sites in the community. They are accepting donations including hygiene care products - deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitiser and packets of lollies.
Each item donated earns an entry into the raffle, with prizes including vouchers from Sutherland Shire businesses and a signed 2023 Cronulla Sharks jersey.
The donation drop boxes will be open until December 8.
Students have also launched a PayPal fundraising page, with money going towards the purchase of items for the packs.
Businesses or individuals are invited to donate through the GEM Girls - Care Packs on Instagram.
"It's a small gesture that can help in a big way," one of the students, Bobby, said.
"I want to be able to help people my age that need help and don't have all the privileges that we do," Jaime said.
"Not everyone has the same experiences that we do or access to the same resources," Claire said.
"I feel like we're doing something good for our community and it's nice to be a part of something positive," Alyssa said.
"It's an opportunity to work with the group, to make decisions, attend meetings and learn through doing things that aren't a standard classroom lesson," Billi said.
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