Perth girls' school's mask initiative sends packages of care across country

Girls' school sends over 600 masks to Melbourne's most vulnerable

Dean of St Paul's Cathedral the Very Revd Andreas Loewe delivers boxes of masks to St Mary's House of Welcome CEO Robina Bradley.

By Chris Shearer

The idea grew out of a simple desire to help people in need. For weeks the wider community of St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School in Perth had watched as Melbourne’s second wave of COVID-19 had paralysed the city. They’d heard stories about vulnerable people being unable to afford essential masks, and spurred on by Deputy Principal Sheevaun Darby they decided to do something about it.

Together, St Mary’s staff, students and families sewed more than 600 reusable masks to donate to Melbourne, which began to arrive in the city in mid-September. Each came in its own sealed ziplock bag with a personal note of support from students.

“These responses to immediate need are kind of what energise very often, which is what happened in this case,” the Revd Richard Pengelley, school chaplain at St Mary’s, told TMA.

“Here we were looking at videos of the empty streets of Melbourne and hearing these terrible stories of about three or four weeks ago, so it was really, really good, [a] really, really positive impact on us and we thank you for the privilege of being able to do it.”

When it came time to distribute the masks, Mr Pengelley, the former dean of St George’s Cathedral Perth, reached out to Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral the Very Revd Andreas Loewe.

“Richard rang and said ‘our girls would very much like to help you in Melbourne. We’re looking at the situation from afar. We all know that we’re in this together, and we’d like to do something for you’,” Dr Loewe says.

“For me this is a really wonderful sign showing that anybody can chip in and help to combat COVID-19. All our gifts are needful and needed and our creativity is needed. When we come together as a nation and a church we can achieve some incredible things that have far reaching effect.”

The masks have been distributed to Anglicare Victoria’s homelessness programs in Fitzroy, St Mary’s House of Welcome, also in Fitzroy, and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Footscray. The response has so far been “really, really positive”, the Dean says.

TMA was on hand with the Dean as he personally delivered two boxes of these masks to St Mary’s House of Welcome CEO Robina Bradley on 23 September.

“Just [a] small touch like masks, it actually says ‘we care’, and makes such a difference,” Ms Bradley said. “The smiles on the faces out there when they get [these personalised notes] in the little bag will be enormous.”