Hand Heart Pocket, the charity of Freemasons Queensland, launched its 2016 Christmas Appeal today to help lay the foundation for a brighter future for North Queensland’s most disadvantaged primary school students.
Its 2016 Christmas Appeal will benefit the Joyful Foundation Inc., a Masonic initiative which supports North Queensland’s most disadvantaged primary school students to reach their full potential by providing access to basic essentials like stationery packs, uniforms and costs for extra-curricular activities and excursions which they would normally go without.
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer, Gary Mark, said that there has never been a more critical time than now to support North Queensland.
“Since the region’s resource downturn, the Joyful Foundation Inc. has had to double their efforts and support more disadvantaged primary school students in North Queensland than ever before. I encourage our network of Masonic Lodges, the general community, our donors and supporters to get behind the Hand Heart Pocket 2016 Christmas Appeal and give generously,” Gary said.
“Families just aren’t coping and the children are taking the brunt of it. That’s why we are aiming to raise $50,000 through our Christmas Appeal which will enable the Joyful Foundation Inc. to increase their capacity to help disadvantaged children by 50%,” he said.
According to the latest data, house prices in Townsville, the most populated urban hub of North Queensland, have fallen by 9.7% in the last five years. The region has the second highest unemployment rate in Queensland at 13% while youth unemployment sits at 16.2%. On top of that the rate of crime and substance abuse continues to soar.
The Joyful Foundation Inc. Founder and Townsville Freemason, Ron Donnellan said many of the students they support come from families where both parents are in low paying jobs. They are struggling to make ends meet and may not receive any government assistance. Once the bills have been paid and food put on the table there is no money left for anything else, so students are left to come to school empty handed.
“My late daughter Joy Donnellen, a local teacher, guidance officer and registered psychologist is the inspiration behind the organisation. She believed every student had potential and that bad behaviour often stemmed from not having the same opportunities as other students,” Ron said.
“By supporting the Hand Heart Pocket 2016 Christmas Appeal, benefiting the Joyful Foundation Inc., you will be helping to change the course of North Queensland simply by investing in its future,” Ron said.
At present, the Joyful Foundation Inc. is active in 44 primary schools in and around the region of North Queensland, going as far as west as Hughenden, as far south as Giru and as far north as Ingham. Since 2012 the organisation has distributed over 1400 stationery packs and covered the costs of many extra-curricular activities and excursions. This year, they need your help to increase their capacity to help disadvantaged children by 50%.