By turning trash into treasure, 10-year-old Ethan Caffery Caragh has donated $200 to Vinnies Night Patrol to help Canberra’s homeless – and it’s all thanks to his collection of recyclable bottles.
Collecting over 2,000 bottles with the help of his grandmother, Ethan donated them for 10 cents each at the local Vinnie’s ‘Return-It’ bottle depot.
“I can’t remember when we decided it, but my grandma and I decided to collect bottles,” Ethan said with a wide grin. “My grandma said ‘do you want to collect bottles with me’ and I said ‘yes’ and that is how it started.”
Ethan learnt about Vinnies’ Night Patrol program at his school St Clare’s of Assisi, which organises an array of fundraising efforts for Vinnies throughout the year, including having the Night Patrol van visit the school during it’s Social Justice Day in May.
Over the space of six months, Ethan and his grandma collected 2,000 bottles and instead of spending his $200 on soccer gear, Ethan decided to hand his cheque to Vinnies Night Patrol.
“We collected 2,000 bottles from my home, my grandma’s, some of her workmates helped and some friends,” he said. “Every couple of weeks my Grandma and I would take our bottles to the local Vinnies collection centre.
“Sometimes the car was so packed I could barely fit in the car.
“I wanted to donate to Night Patrol because I’d hate to imagine what it’s like living without a home. I think it would be pretty hard to survive when you don’t have a home.”
Ethan’s mum Priscilla Caragh said she was very proud of her son and mother.
“They worked really hard and once a month they took their bottle collection into Vinnies,” Mrs Caragh said. “My mum has got a really big heart and she is all about giving back to the community and doing little acts of kindness to help people along the way.
“She is now teaching that to a new generation, which is fabulous.”
St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra’s director of community engagement Erin MacArthur said Ethan’s generosity could help thousands of people experiencing homelessness in the ACT.
“We are so grateful to Ethan, not just for his generous financial donation to Night Patrol, but for his empathy and compassion towards people doing it tough,” Ms MacArthur said. “It’s wonderful to see young people engaging with social issues in our community.
“We are always grateful for all donations, large or small, financial or material, that allow us to continue providing food, warm items, and compassionate company to those at risk of, or experiencing homelessness in Canberra.”
Vinnies’ two Night Patrol vans go out 364 nights a year, providing over 12,000 instances of support through the provision of food, warm drinks, jackets, sleeping bags and other items each year. For more information, click here.
Return-It depots can be found in 22 locations across the territory, including Vinnies Dickson, Vinnies Mitchell, Vinnies Belconnen and Vinnies Tuggeranong. People recycling eligible empty beverage containers can choose to keep the 10 cents refund or donate to charity.