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Children show missionary spirit as they sacrifice birthday gifts and pocket money for Socktober

Celebrating children: More than 360 Catholic schools will participate in Catholic Mission Australia’s virtual Socktober Event Day to support children living in poverty in Cambodia. Photo: Catholic Mission

CHILDREN throughout Australia have been bringing adults close to tears with their generous efforts to support children in Cambodia this month despite a global pandemic.

Across the nation today, 360 Catholic schools will participate in Catholic Mission Australia’s virtual Socktober Event Day, held in place of an annual Socktober event normally organised for diocesan schools across Australia.

The virtual event coincides with Children’s Mission Day, celebrated today, and Mission Month in October, and invites schools across the nation to “sock it to poverty” by organising soccer penalty shootouts to celebrate a game loved by children around the world.

The Socktober website includes instructions on making a ‘sockball’, suggested rules for penalty shootouts and a Homily by Jesuit Bishop Enrique “Kike” Figaredo, who ministers to disabled children in Cambodia.

In Queensland more than 100 schools will participate in today’s virtual event, including 61 schools throughout the Archdiocese of Brisbane, where Socktober first launched in 2010 before becoming a national movement. 

Catholic Mission Brisbane youth and student engagement officer Sue Williams said she was moved by some “profound words” written by primary school students to explain their involvement in Socktober.

“It would bring you to tears some of the things that children are able to reflect on,” Mrs Williams said.

Mrs Williams shared one student’s request to forgo birthday presents for donations to Socktober instead.

“As you all know, on the 27th of September I will be celebrating my 9th b’day, and I am sure you were planning on giving me a birthday gift,” the child wrote.

“Instead of giving me a gift you can donate some money towards this great cause.”

Another child explained the importance of a giving heart to raise awareness of the difficulties for children living in poverty.

“I’m inspired to participate in Socktober 2020 because no matter your circumstance it’s important to be generous in your heart and give what you can give and raise awareness of the amount of children that live in poverty around the world and be thankful for the way we live here in Australia,” the child wrote.

Socktober: “I’m inspired to participate in Socktober 2020 because no matter your circumstance it’s important to be generous in your heart and give what you can give and raise awareness of the amount of children that live in poverty around the world and be thankful for the way we live here in Australia,” the child wrote.

Mrs Williams said many students acknowledged that COVID-19 was severely impacting children who were already drowning in poverty.

Their generosity with Socktober showed an early sense of being missionary in the world, she said.

“I just think there’s a real sense of wanting to do something for others,” she said.

“If they’re thinking like that now, what’s the potential for them as missionaries as they get a little bit older.”

In launching the Socktober Event Day, Catholic Mission’s National Community Engagement Officer, Matt Poynting, said schools around the country were celebrating the “missionary spirit” in children around the world.

“Despite the very difficult year schools and families have experienced, the generosity of Australian students and their families towards those doing it tougher is inspiring,’ Mr Poynting said.

“Children’s Mission Day is a day to recognise the efforts of children as missionaries, doing good for their brothers and sisters overseas, even if it means sacrificing what they have.’

Mr Poynting said St Edward’s Catholic Primary School, Daisy Hill, and St Stephen’s School, Algester were leading the national tally for Socktober fundraising.

To access the full suite of resources and materials for today’s virtual event, visit www.socktober.org.au.

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