Forty teenagers from Bankstown chose to give up their football and social events to spend their Friday night visiting the homeless in the Sydney CBD on 18 July.
The group of youth from the Bankstown 2nd Ward, joined by their parents and youth leaders, went to areas of Woolloomooloo to distribute food and clothing to the homeless. A member of the Bishopric, Lawrence Sasulu, commented, “We asked each youth to bring three cans of food and a blanket if they were able to. The youth ended up bringing much more and we filled a truckload.”
The young woman leader, Foga’a Masoe, observed that the youth appeared to be nervous at first, because they did not know how to approach the people; however, after they past the first person, they were fine.”
Indeed, Tyron Rio, one of the young men, said, “I learnt from the experience how to talk to people” and that he was “shocked to see that there was a kid just about my age.”
Another young woman, Regina Brown, remarked, “And I complain that there are three pillows on my bed!”
When asked to share one of his most memorial experiences, Lawrence recounted, “While Tyron and I were walking to give a blanket to a man, another man walked up and asked if he could have the blanket… …The man whom we were originally going to give the blanket to then said, ‘Give it to him, because I have something and he doesn’t have anything.” Lawrence was impressed by the generosity of this man who almost had nothing himself but was still willing to give.
Foga’a also recalled, “When we gave the sleeping bag to ‘Trevor,’ he had tears in his eyes as he told us that he’s been after one of these for a long time. The young man with me then asked if he could give Trevor our whole bag of food.”
Foga’a elaborated that, after the youth had distributed all the food and blankets, they started giving their own jumpers, scarves, beanies, snacks and bags. When they had nothing left to give, the youth simply wanted to talk to the people.
According to Lawrence, the group of youth was able to go up to anyone and everyone by the end of the activity. He said, “The youth were so engaged in the activity, they did not realize that they had not eaten dinner; yet, none of them complained or asked to stop at McDonalds on the way back.”
The leaders commented that they had never seen the youth return from a youth activity in such a quiet and humble manner.
Lawrence concluded, “The youth were grateful for their own families and were humble about where they come from. This was an opportunity to create awareness among the young people of others in the community who may be in need of their help and comfort.”