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Ruth and Eric Lawson, and GFTH Convenor Joy Godfrey. Photo: Dianne Jensen

How to give from the heart

Meet the Queensland congregation which has partnered with local child safety services and school chaplains to deliver practical help to those who need it most—and learn how your church can do the same. Dianne Jensen reports.

Sometimes ministry starts with one person seeing a need and offering to help. Joy Godfrey, convenor of Redcliffe Uniting Church Give From The Heart (GFTH) did just that when she turned up at the Redcliffe Child Safety Service Centre over five years ago.

“I took a little quillow down one morning and asked, ‘Can I help you? I’d like to make some of these’—and they said, ‘Yes, we’d love it!’”

Joy was soon joined by others, and now 1600 children and their families have been assisted by GFTH in partnership with the Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and school chaplains.

“GFTH provides essentials such as sheets, blankets, towels, head lice treatment and handmade quilts which are distributed to at-risk families and children placed in care. Everything supplied is new,” says Joy.

In an area hard-hit by the drug ice (crystal methamphetamine), the needs are sometimes immediate, adds GFTH member Ruth Lawson.

 “With around 280 families affected by ice in Deception Bay and the Peninsula, Joy can get a sudden phone call asking for help. One night there were six or seven children being taken away from their family, which must be so frightening! We supplied them with fleecy blankets and a cuddly toy.

“Or the support officer will ring up and say, can you get 15 pairs of pyjamas, ranging from zero to 15 years?”

Working through school chaplains, local children including those at two special schools are assisted with basic necessities like school uniforms and shoes.

A significant amount of the GFTH budget comes from fundraising and donations (last year totalling $12 000), along with a grant from the Redcliffe Uniting Church Neil Grant Trust. North Lakes Uniting Church has stepped up to help, donating over 100 presents for the annual GFTH-sponsored Christmas party for children in care and their parents.

Quilts are made by the GFTH Monday Quilters, with 150 distributed in the last 12 months to children going into care, at-risk teenagers and women escaping domestic violence.

Secretary Rev Eric Lawson says that the GFTH team are keen to network with other churches to share their outreach model.

“It’s important for it to be anchored in the local church,” says Eric. “To see a need and respond, that’s God’s work, the practical outworking of faith.”

To find out more about GFTH visit redcliffeuniting.com.au or contact the church office (07) 3283 4066.

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