17 years of Toys ‘n’ Tucker at TrinityJohn Blois
The Anglicare initiative, ‘Toys ‘n’ Tucker’ is taken up each year by churches, schools and individuals around Sydney to deliver meals and toys for children and families to open on Christmas. 2022 is Trinity’s 17th year of being involved in the initiative.
Many students at Trinity love gathering with their own families, ripping open presents and enjoying delicious meals on Christmas Day. But for many families all over Sydney and beyond, the luxuries of Christmas just aren’t within reach.
Each year, Anglicare runs its ‘Toys ‘n’ Tucker’ initiative, encouraging individuals throughout the community to donate food and toys that can then be packed into hampers and distributed to households that are struggling to make ends meet.
Students in Trinity’s Preparatory School have been involved in donating items, packing hampers, and helping out at the warehouse for 17 years now and it’s clear that the experience is one that many students love to throw all their effort into.
Mr Stuart Smith, Assistant Chaplain at the Prep School, heads up the programme at Trinity and loves to see the students getting involved and he particularly loves to see the Year 6 boys giving up their time and energy for the initiative. However, this is an experience that Trinity students are very lucky to be involved in.
“I’ve investigated a lot of charities that we would like to be involved with,” Mr Smith says. “It’s a bit easier to find opportunities for the boys in the Senior and Middle School to get involved with, but so many charities say that while they’d love to have us, they often class Prep students are too young to do ‘labour’.”
This was the case with Toys ‘n’ Tucker, too, until an opportunity came along 17 years ago for the boys to go out to the warehouse in Mt Druitt and spend a day serving, something they’ve been doing ever since, continuing at the new warehouse in Villawood.
“We started out by taking six boys to the warehouse, then we expanded to 12, and from there we’ve been able to take three groups of Year 6 boys out there to help out.”
Each year, Trinity advertises the programme so that everyone in the Trinity community can donate, and there’s always a large focus on service, showcasing videos and pictures of the boys from previous years getting involved in the hands-on experience. While at the warehouse, the boys clean shelves, sort through items, set up shelves with food and toys and organise pamphlets. It’s this experience that Mr Smith says is the key to Trinity’s involvement in the initiative.
“The boys have everything they need and more – they’re so well off,” he says. “For many families, they have the opportunity to donate $50. We recognise that it can be challenging to explain to the boys the difference between giving because you have extra, and giving to be generous.
“We want them to make that connection. The act of connecting the gift with the people who will receive them is so precious.”
COVID-19 of course, saw some changes to the programme. Instead of encouraging donations from across the Greater Sydney Region, Anglicare encouraged the community to ‘shop online’, selecting different combinations of gifts and food that were then sourced safely by the Anglicare team and delivered to families.
This approach was perfect for 2021, reducing contact risks, mitigating the risk of receiving a lot of one item and none of others, and allowing families to still be provided for throughout the Christmas period.
Anglicare shipped many of the items to Trinity, giving the chance for students to be involved in packing the hampers on site. While Mr Smith hopes that there will be a return to the old approach so that the boys can gain a more personal connection through the experience, he says that no matter what, the hamper packing is beneficial.
“It’s a manifestation of their heart through their hands and into that gift.”
Over his time heading up the programme, Mr Smith has seen how different boys respond to the experience.
“Some boys come to the experience without a purpose or a plan and they don’t seem to know where they fit,” he says. “They go out there and they find this passion to get into it and do things that their peers don’t do and it’s eye opening for them. They discover something about themselves.
“And vice versa, there are some boys who think of themselves as generous but find the experience quite challenging. Either way, they usually come away from the experience amazed and transformed.”
In the Junior School, families are also encouraged to purchase a little extra in the weekly shop for the boys to place under the Christmas Toys ‘n’ Tucker tree. Mrs Eliza Leedow, Junior School chaplain explained: “We ask every family to make a contribution of unwrapped toys or books and / or canned items to be passed onto Anglicare for distribution to families over Christmas. The Junior School has a wonderful tradition of generously supporting this cause with hundreds of items each year. Students who are the charity leaders also get involved and help spread the message.
“We have a number of fundraiser events each year, like Mufti Days, and the student charity leaders help decide where to focus fundraising. This year, with some of the funds raised, we will do a trip to the shops to add to the donations received from families for Toys ‘n’ Tucker, so the boys get to experience making the selection and adding that little extra into a shopping trolley to help others less fortunate.”
This article originally appeared in our December Edition of Trinity News. You can request a physical copy of Trinity News or view our digital bookshelf here.