Cayden was pleased with his new 'do', all thanks to Zest hairdresser Hannah. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Cayden was pleased with his new 'do', all thanks to Zest hairdresser Hannah. Picture: Rhylea Millar

One-stop-shop offers school supplies for struggling families

Financial stress for Bundaberg families is at an all time high, as the recovery from COVID-19 continues and the start of the new school term looms closer.

After the successful launch of the School Savvy program in Bundaberg last year, CentacareCQ is hosting the event again, offering everything from low-cost stationery to preloved uniforms and free haircuts.

CentacareCQ Business development co-ordinator Maija Stewart zips up Burnett MP Stephen Bennett's backpack. Picture: Rhylea Millar
CentacareCQ Business development co-ordinator Maija Stewart zips up Burnett MP Stephen Bennett's backpack. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Business development co-ordinator for CentacareCQ Maija Stewart said the special initiative is designed to help families who may be struggling to cover back-to-school costs.

"School Savvy CQ is a non-judgemental, non-government funded program that relies on sponsorships and donations to run the event each year," Ms Stewart said.

"It is an initiative to help children of struggling families, get back to school with basic needs, including preloved uniforms and stationery supplies and we also have a counsellor on board for the event, to offer some financial literacy, budgeting and planning advice."

Families struggling to fund back-to-school costs are encouraged to take advantage of affordable stationery, preloved uniforms, counselling and free haircuts available through School Savvy. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Families struggling to fund back-to-school costs are encouraged to take advantage of affordable stationery, preloved uniforms, counselling and free haircuts available through School Savvy. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Thanking the local organisations and sponsors who have assisted with the event this year, Ms Stewart said the program was a real community effort.

Lifeline, The Salvation Army, Zest Hair and CQUniversity were just some of the participating sponsors this year.

Cayden was pleased with his new 'do', all thanks to Zest hairdresser Hannah. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Cayden was pleased with his new 'do', all thanks to Zest hairdresser Hannah. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Additionally, New Image Laundry assisted by washing uniforms and The Friendlies Society Private Hospital donated underwear and socks.

"We are here today on the second year of School Savvy in building five at CQUniversity, who has been wonderful in offering this building and volunteer staff," Ms Stewart said.

"I spoke to a lady this morning who had moved down here from North Queensland with six children and her husband was starting a new job, but the company called all the people that they had recruited and said the positions were no longer available.

"She was grateful that this event was happening today and that she was able to get her children back to school and this is what it's for - it's for community."

CentacareCQ Business development co-ordinator Maija Stewart and State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett check out the low-cost stationery available. Picture: Rhylea Millar
CentacareCQ Business development co-ordinator Maija Stewart and State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett check out the low-cost stationery available. Picture: Rhylea Millar

State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said he was delighted that CentreCare had invested so much effort into the community again, with the initiative already assisting many local families.

"We know families are going to struggle and of course charities out there are telling us that there is a very severe cliff that a lot of families are facing," Mr Bennett said.

"That's why the financial support being offered here the today - the uniforms and stationery supplies, can make a little bit of a difference to families.

"We know the cost of putting kids back into school is quite horrendous and that's why CentacareCQ are doing a great job and we're here to support them."

Volunteers Vicki Lyons, Joy Matthews, Maija Stewart and Danielle Le Lagadec are happy to help with any questions families may have. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Volunteers Vicki Lyons, Joy Matthews, Maija Stewart and Danielle Le Lagadec are happy to help with any questions families may have. Picture: Rhylea Millar

The State Member encouraged more organisations to reach out and sponsor the event, to ensure kids received all they needed to start the school year off right.

Running all week, the School Savvy store is open from 8am to 4pm, with extended hours on Wednesday until 6pm, in building five at the local CQUniversity campus.

Due to its success, the annual event will eventually be extended throughout Queensland, from Bundaberg to Mackay and Longreach.



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