Stocked shelves and opened worlds

Year 10 Ōtūmoetai College student, Catelyn Evans stocking the shelves at Ōtūmoetai Social Supermarket. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

The Christmas elves have been busy at work, stocking the shelves with wonderful treats and gifts, to bring a bit of jolliness to families in need.

The elves in question are Year 10 Ōtūmoetai College students who have been doing good in their corner of the community.

They’ve teamed up with the Ōtūmoetai Social Supermarket – a non-for-profit organisation that supports families facing financial hardship by way of subsidised grocery shopping.

 “It’s opened our world a bit more. I mean I didn’t know this place actually existed before this project,” says 14-year-old student Catelyn Evans.

Treats galore

Catelyn and her classmates have been helping to supply the supermarket with Christmas goodies from soft toys, Havaianas flip flops, stockings, chocolates and more. “We all brainstormed different ways of what we could get into the supermarket.

“So we tried stockings, I tried Christmas trees; we all tried something different and came up with different ideas and aspects of Christmas that we find quite important to us.”

Year 10 Ōtūmoetai College students, Catelyn Evans, Mia Picard and Dilsher Kaur with Christmas goodies ready to be stocked. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

At the heart of their efforts is an impressive 1.8 metre tall Christmas tree-shaped advent calendar, filled with treats donated by the school’s staff and students. “Each day shoppers can come in and they put their hand in [one of the boxes] and they get a little bag of goodies.”

Giving back

Helping the social supermarket has a “community feel” to it, says Catelyn. “It’s quite close to the school and close to a lot of students…if we give to the community, the community gives back in a way.”

Reflecting on the social action she and her peers have been undertaking, Catelyn adds: “I think you already know that the world isn’t fair”. “It’s just good to know that there are places who support people who are a little bit less fortunate.”

Social Studies teacher Nick Page says: “It’s been a really engaging project for the students and one of the aims is to get them to see that even at their age they can do a lot of good in the hood, and make a difference in the world that they’re in”.

Lowering barriers

So what does the supermarket think of these young students getting behind them? “It is so cool because Ōtūmoetai College is one of our referral agencies so it’s actually a two way thing,” says connection and ideas manager Jackie Paine. “They’re giving back, but they can refer their families through for shops as well. The classes who have come to visit know it’s here now, so hopefully when they see their neighbours or friends who need to be referred here – the barriers are much lower.

“I think Christmas is a time to be close to one another whether its family, neighbours, friends…even though throughout the year you show that you care for one another – you can really come together and support each other,” says Catelyn.

The class is running a fundraiser with a goal of $1000 to continue filling the supermarket’s treat shelf! To donate, visit:

The Christmas tree advent calendar the students created to fill with treats. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

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