The Smith Family’s 2018 Winter Appeal to help Illawarra students

HELPING HAND: Volunteer Athena Withnall with students Jake Maher, Shakira Cuzner and Jai Maher at Mount Warrigal Learning Club. Picture: Sylvia Liber
HELPING HAND: Volunteer Athena Withnall with students Jake Maher, Shakira Cuzner and Jai Maher at Mount Warrigal Learning Club. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Being a single mother of four children on the autism spectrum, Warilla’s Sam Peever says the support of The Smith Family’s programs has been invaluable. 

“It’s improved their schoolwork, it’s making them be more involved within the school, and giving them more confidence,” she said. 

Illawarra residents are being urged to help thousands of disadvantaged Australian children break the cycle of poverty by supporting The Smith Family’s 2018 Winter Appeal.

The children’s education charity is aiming to raise $4.1 million nationally by June 30 to deliver learning and mentoring programs. 

Funds raised through the Winter Appeal will help disadvantaged children access a range of literacy and numeracy programs – such as Student2Student, which helps young students improve their reading skills by pairing them with older ‘reading buddies’, as well as after-school Learning Clubs.  

Learning Clubs, part of the Learning for Life program feature out-of-school learning support whereby students are helped by volunteer tutors. 

There are 11 Learning Clubs in the Illawarra/Shoalhaven, with 185 participants.

The Smith Family volunteer tutors provide one-on-one support, helping students improve skills such as reading, writing, mathematics and homework. 

Ms Peever has four children; Tamika, five; Jake, six; Jai, eight; and Shakira, 10.

The three eldest children are on Smith Family scholarships and attend Learning Clubs. 

Sam Peever with her children Shakira Cuzner, Jake Maher and Jai Maher. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Sam Peever with her children Shakira Cuzner, Jake Maher and Jai Maher. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Shakira has been attending Learning Clubs since 2014, and has participated in S2S for the past three years.

Shakira and Jake both attend Mount Warrigal Public School, as well as the Mount Warrigal Learning Club at the school. 

Jai attends Kemblawarra Public School, and the Learning Club at Coomaditchie. 

Ms Peever said her children have benefited greatly from the Learning Clubs and other Smith Family programs.

“Having four children with autism, it’s helped them a lot,” she said.

“It’s improved their schoolwork and it’s making them be more involved within the school, and giving them more confidence.

“It’s really helped me, because it’s very hard being a single parent to sit down and try and help them all with their homework… So this has really helped,” she said. 

“It’s really good for kids with additional needs; it’s really benefited my kids. I’m encouraging more parents to come on board, more families and to bring their kids, and to try and get involved with more volunteers as well.

“The Smith Family has always provided support and help.”

Anyone wishing to donate to The Smith Family’s Winter Appeal can phone 1800 024 069 or visit thesmithfamily.com.au/winter.