Ricky Brown tucks into a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
Ricky Brown tucks into a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Claudia Baxter

Homeless celebrate Christmas

THEY’RE the downtrodden, the destitute, the desperate and the homeless, but thanks to a school they weren’t the forgotten this Christmas.

St Peter Claver College and Sacred Heart Parish treated Ipswich’s most needy to a festive barbecue feast, food hampers and Christmas gifts at Queens Park on Monday night.

The Riverview secondary school has been feeding the homeless and disadvantaged people of Ipswich for the past three years, meeting with up to 60 people at Queens Park every Monday night.

Principal Diarmuid O’Riordan said staff and senior students at the school and members of the Booval-based church had jumped at the opportunity to help the needy through the Claver Cares program.

“It has captured the imagination of a lot of people,” Mr O’Riordan said.

It was the school’s deputy principal Michael Nayler and campus minister and teacher Charlie Scott who first came up with the idea of doing something to help Ipswich’s disadvantaged three years ago.

“I suspect that our school gets more out of this than it gives in some ways,” Mr Nayler said.

“It’s a powerful thing to be able to sit down and share a meal and a conversation with these people.

“There are interesting stories from good people – a lot of them are boarding house people, some are rough sleepers but they’re all just lovely souls who want to be together for Christmas.”

In between enjoying the good food and the friendly atmosphere, Vince Bologna played a few Christmas ditties on his acoustic guitar.

“I would feel funny coming here just having a feed and not contributing anything,” said the Ipswich man who sleeps in the back of his van. “The beautiful thing is that all these people are working together.”

The big guy in the red suit made a special appearance at the Christmas celebration when he arrived on the back of a fire truck to hand out gifts.



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