Northern Rivers school raises thousands for its neighbours

A tiny school in the Northern Rivers flood zone has set aside its own challenges, to raise more than $5000 for others, reports Kristi Pritchard-Owens.

Image: Upper Coopers Creek school captain Louie Perkins with Lismore South Public School Principal Larissa Polak.

When the first deluge hit Upper Coopers Creek on February 28, access roads were damaged, a bridge was washed away, and the local school’s principal had to be rescued from the wrong side of a landslip.

“Even though our students didn't lose their homes, they witnessed a lot of the chaos and devastation,” Principal Jennifer Wright said.

But that was nothing compared to what was happening in the nearby towns of Mullumbimby and Lismore.

The 12 students from Upper Coopers Creek Public School quickly realised that this was no ordinary flood event.

“Just like the rest of us, they really wanted – needed - to do something to help,” the principal said.

“We knew that South Lismore, Coraki and Cabbage Tree Island had been some of the worst hit areas.”

Getting in touch with those schools, the principals suggested gift cards to help students get back on their feet.

The student representative council started a GoFundMe campaign, keen to reach family and friends who didn’t live nearby but wanted to donate.

"I couldn't believe how quickly the money came in, and it came from people that we didn't even know!” school captain Louie Perkins said

“I expected our parents and families to donate money but none of these people even knew us.

“They didn't have to give us money, but they cared so they did." 

The original target of $500 was quickly passed, then $1000… all the way to $3800.

That’s when a donation came in from an unexpected quarter, thanks to a few connections and the power of social media.

“The lovely people from RockWiz donated $1200 so that the kids reached their $5000 goal,” Ms Wright said.

In the end, a total of $5200 was raised through the efforts of this one small school.

Most of the money was used to buy vouchers for supermarkets, department stores, fuel, hardware, and pizza (with some extras thrown in by generous businesses).

These were then given to Lismore South, Coraki, and Cabbage Tree Island Public Schools, to distribute to families.

Upper Coopers Creek students also insisted on helping animals affected by the floods and $1000 was donated to Lismore Animal Rights and Rescue, an organisation which has been caring for many pets whose families have been made homeless by the floods.

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