Two local university students are forgoing presents to raise much-needed money for vulnerable and at-risk children and young people. Alysse Cruz and Erick de la Paz from Leopold raised a total of $1,085 to support foster care, kinship care, family services, educational support and disability.
Deakin University occupational therapy student Alysse Cruz turned 21 in late 2016, but parties were the last thing on her mind – she wanted to fundraise instead. And instead of receiving gifts on Christmas, Alysse and her boyfriend Erick – who is studying commerce – asked friends, family and community in Leopold to dig deep for OzChild’s kids.
“Every year, my boyfriend Erick and I ask ourselves, ‘What do I want for Christmas?’ and we always realise that we don’t need any more than what we already have,” Alysse says.
“We realised that there are a lot of kids who aren’t as fortunate as us. We wanted to get the message out that we want kids to spend Christmas in the way they deserve.”
Over the two months leading up to Christmas, Alysse and Erick launched The Christmas Project to raise funds for OzChild who have the biggest foster care program in Victoria. The Christmas Project involved a Christmas Market, a board games night, and an Everyday Hero page.
“It was hard at first, we were worried about what people would think and things were slow,” Alysse says.
“But we started printing collateral about OzChild and explained why it was important. It’s not us they’re helping – it’s going to kids who need it. That’s when things started picking up. It was good to talk to people and raise awareness.”
Making a difference in her community is important to Alysse who wants to work with at-risk kids and children with disabilities when she graduates. With a natural alignment to her career aspirations and selfless personal values, OzChild was an obvious choice.
CEO of OzChild Lisa J. Griffiths says, “We would like to thank Alysse and Erick for their generosity, initiative and for thinking of OzChild’s kids. Their funds will go towards therapeutic care, education support and intervention programs to heal and strengthen at-risk kids and families.”
Digital Content Producer Ellie Freeman
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