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Support for those affected by Cyclone Winston, which made landfall in Fiji on Saturday 20 February as a Category 5 system, poured in from charities across Australia – Red Cross, Care Australia, UNICEF all offered aid. But support also came from an unexpected source – a group of 3 to 7 year old boys from The Scots College’s Early Learning Centre in Bellevue Hill, who rallied around ‘Fiji Friday’, a day where the boys could dress up in their favourite holiday attire to raise funds for those in need.

“At the Early Learning Centre (ELC) we believe in teaching the boys about social issues, making them aware of the world around them. When the Cyclone in Fiji occurred, the teachers rallied together to discuss how and what they could do to help bring some aid to this disaster”, said Mrs Gaye Entwistle, Director of The Early Learning Centre at Scots.

“The boys were told about the cyclone and shown pictures of the disaster. Some of the boys identified with the disaster site as they had recalled being there on holidays with their families,” remarked Mrs Entwistle.

When the teachers asked the boys what they could do to help, suggestions such as man power to help rebuild, money and material items were cleverly proposed.

The teachers collectively decided on what they termed ‘Fiji Friday’, a fun filled day with the boys wearing tropical outfits, suits, and Hawaiian shirts.

The boy’s parents, who whole-heartedly supported the event, made donations on the day. Mrs Markie Calle, Kindergarten Teacher at the ELC, said the parents responded generously and they managed to raise approximately $2,000. “Some of the parents who had forgotten to donate on the Friday called on the following Monday asking if they could still make a donation,” said Mrs Calle.

Cyclone Winston left 55,000 people in shelters as over 24,000 houses were damaged or destroyed. Australia offered the aid of defence personnel, sending close to 1,000 men and women to provide assistance to the people of Fiji.

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