Posted by Sam McCurdy
The Rotary Berwick & District Benevolent Society works in close collaboration with Casey North Community Information Service (CNCISS) in Narre Warren, with PP Gus Dominguez as our club representative on their Board. Each year before Christmas, the ‘Benevolent Society’ organises a collection of non-perishable food items and toys from local schools and supermarkets for distribution via CNCISS.  This is a project of the Rotary Club of Berwick.
Nossal High School students
The 2020 Christmas Collection began on 1st December with generous donations from Nossal High School and Berwick Market Square Supermarket. The collections continued this week with donations from Kambrya College, Beaconhills College, Berwick Grammar School and St Margaret’s Senior and Junior Schools.  The efficient pick-up team consisted of Rotarians Laury Gordyn, Mark Caulfield, Isobel Caulfield and Sam McCurdy.
The collection from St Margaret’s Senior School was particularly notable, since it was the culmination of work done by the students of the newly formed Rotary Interact Club at the school. The Club was formed under the sponsorship and mentorship of the Rotary Clubs of Berwick and Emerald.
From left to right:  President Annabelle Morton, Sam McCurdy,
Mark Caulfield, Isobel Caulfield, Laury Gordyn and Sanya Verma
Interact clubs bring together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills, while discovering the power of the Rotary motto ‘Service Above Self’. They organise at least two projects every year, one that helps their school or community and one that promotes international understanding.
The donated items from all collection sites were passed on to CNCISS, where they are packed into Christmas hampers for distribution to those in need within the local community.
From left to right: Vanessa Shillito, Isobel Caulfield,
Laury Gordyn, Susan Magee, Sam McCurdy and Mark Caulfield
Although the storage room at CNCISS looks fit to burst, CEO Susan Magee confirmed that it will empty very quickly once they start giving out the Christmas hampers to the 90 or more families in need, within the local community.  The donated items will be greatly appreciated by the recipients, making their 2020 Christmas so much easier and happier.
This week was the final week of collections for 2020 and involved donations from Berwick College, Timbarra P-9 School and Berwick Market Square Supermarket.
Berwick College reports that the Year 9 English class has just completed reading the novel 'Six Impossible Things' by Fiona Wood, which follows the adversity and financial struggles experienced by a family. This has provided the students with a context for the Christmas Collection.
In their own words, “The themes presented throughout the novel include adversity and misfortune due to the protagonist's family experiencing great financial hardship. The class developed much empathy for people who face such hardship and wanted to donate imperishable items to the less fortunate for Christmas through the Berwick College Rotary Christmas Appeal. Each student within the class donated 3 or more items, and many used their own money to do so. It was a very moving moment for us all!" 
Their teacher, Miss Rees, is very proud of the kindness demonstrated by her students.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the 2020 Christmas Collection and to all those involved in the collection and distribution process.