This is an opportunity for children to put all their learning (seeing) and formation(thinking) into action. It is important for members of Mini Vinnies groups to understand that they can make a difference in this world. To this end, doing means that undertaking an achievable project will make a difference in the lives of the poor, isolated or marginalised.
It is important to understand that simply by setting up a Mini Vinnies group, the members are doing something tangible:
- They pray as part of each meeting
- They learn
- They develop into more socially aware and responsible adults
Sometimes it is easier to teach children a lesson when the good works and its effects are tangible. Measurable good works include:
- Visit a local nursing home and do the garden, play board games, sing etc.
- Hold appeals- food, clothing, toiletries, Easter eggs, winter woollies, gifts
- Fundraise for a local SSVP Conference or a particular service such as the Ozanam Centre
- Host a morning tea in the school for residents of a local nursing home
- Have a film afternoon for local older people
- Invite local people in for a school show or concert-Mini Vinnies would host visitors
- Find out more about the SSVP twinning programme and twin with a school in another part of the world
If the children KNOW that they can effect real change, then it is all worth it, even if they have an effect on just one persons’ life.
Your Mini Vinnies group may decide to run one fundraiser per term, or only one or two per year- it will depend on the ability and desire of the children to organise fundraisers, the extent to which the school will allow the group to raise money, the needs within the community and the extent to which people can support the group’s fundraising efforts. There is no obligation on a group to raise money.
Where would the money go?
It is up to the group to decide what they want to raise money for. There may be a particular need within their community which they want to address through fundraising, or a guest speaker may have talked to them about a particular SSVP activity which they would like to support. They money raised could go to the local SSVP Conference, a special works project or a project being organised by the group.
With any fundraiser, it is important to let people know where the funds will be going. People are more likely to support the fundraiser if they know exactly who they will be helping by making a donation. This also helps to raise awareness at the same time as raising funds.
Supporting people in the school community
You could also raise money to help struggling families within the school. Even though the group would not know exactly who is being helped through such a program, (confidentiality is vital), they would know that they are giving vital support to a family within their immediate community. This money could help with school trips, uniforms, stationary etc.
Raising awareness of social justice issues is a very important part of the work of the SSVP, and Mini Vinnies can play a key role in this.
There are lots of ways for your Mini Vinnies group to stand up and speak out in your school community. The best way to start is education. Teach others about the injustices in our communities, once people know and care about an issue, they are more likely to stand up and speak out against it. Here are some examples;
- Hold school assemblies, let the whole school know about the injustice and educate them on the things that are happening and why they are unjust
- Create stalls or events that draw attention to the issues
- Make announcements over the school tannoy system
- Organise a week dedicated to an issue, with something happening each day (Monday- assembly, Tuesday-fundraiser, Wednesday- art show etc.)
- Be creative!
Once you have people caring about an issue the next step is to go and do something about it! Be advocates for social justice and take action against injustice. Examples of this are;
- Write letters- local councillors, government ministers, business leaders etc.
- Let your community know- deliver leaflets, hold stalls etc.
- Guessing competitions
- Non uniform days
- Cake stalls
- Fun runs
- Bag packing
These are only ideas, the best fundraisers are the ones that are creative and capture people’s imagination.