STAWELL - Stawell Secondary College students have been busy fundraising in preparation for their humanitarian trip to Cambodia early next year.
Sixteen students from years 10, 11 and 12 will be attending the alternative to Schoolies, which is an initiative of Rotary Stawell Inc, in partnership with Samaritan's Purse, Stawell Secondary College Social Justice Group and the Northern Grampians Shire Council. Local teachers Wendy Slorach, Gaynor Radovic, Jasmin Heckbarally and Anne Rohde will also accompany the students during the January.
As part of their commitment towards Samaritan's Purse, the students have to raise a total of $4000 towards a water project such as purchasing bio sand filters or a well and they must also provide and fill 300 shoeboxes for local Cambodian children.
Ms Slorach said all the children had been working hard to raise money for the past five months.
"So far we have made over $3000 and are well on our way to getting a well, but then we have also made the commitment to bring 300 shoeboxes over with us," she said.
"We have been doing bake sales and have also received donations. The Stawell Gold Mine gave us a $1000 grant which is fabulous and have also made a donation and offered their support to provide items for the shoeboxes.
"Salvation Army, together with combined churches from Stawell and Ararat donated $258 to the trip, along with a further $200 made from a stall which was great."
A&N Collections, Carey Covers and Langi Ghiran Winery are just some of the other businesses that have contributed to the expedition, while staff from Navarre Minerals and local Probus members have also contributed to helping to raise money for the students.
A sausage sizzle outside Woolworths recently raised $300 towards the project and another one is planned for the future, while raffle tickets are currently being sold by the students, with a night for up to four people in the Gang-Gang villas the major prize donated by Bev Gray, and Gold Reef Clothing and other local business also contributing.
Ms Slorach said the fundraising is a very big commitment on top of the student's schooling, however the end results will be worth it.
"It is our kids who are going to benefit," she said.
"Even though they're going over to do good things for Cambodian communities, personally I think the biggest impact is going to be on the lives of the 16 students that go.
"The adults are all also paying their own way, as well helping with fundraising. I am doing my wood chopping and then selling the fire wood and Gaynor is busy knitting beanies for the shoeboxes - I think she is up to 60!
"Each shoebox costs $9 to take over, so that is another $3500 on top of the $4000 for the well."
Students are calling for donations to help fill the shoeboxes. The main items sort after are exercise books and pencils and erases, however clothing and sporting equipment such as tennis balls will also be gladly accepted.
"We have now got enough toys and things to put in the shoeboxes and we've got about 80 completed at the moment," Ms Slorach said.
"Exercise books instead of story books are better, because the children over there can write their own stories that way and practice their English."
The Community Health Centre has also come on board and offered to provide all the students' immunisations free of charge, while Ms Slorach said more fundraising events would be coming up.
"Des Pickford is organising a four person reverse Ambrose golf day and that is in October and they are hoping for sponsors to provide prizes for nearest the pin. It will be something like a $50 entry fee and all proceeds will go towards the water project," she said.
"It would be wonderful if this became an annual thing. We've had a lot of students who are interested and would like to go next year or the year after and we've had a great response for this trip, we are already taking more than we first planned."
Anyone wanting to find out more information about the trip or how to make a donation can contact Wendy Slorach on 5358 1700 (work) or 5358 1337 (home).