December 5, 2023

Why mission matters

Cana Catholic Primary School students donate toys for refugee children

Spectrum staff with staff, student and parent from Cana Catholic Primary School dontating toys for refugee kids as part of their mission work

It is a sunny Monday morning, and we are in the car park of Spectrum’s Sunshine office, helping to unload two car boot loads of toys. The toys have been collected by the students from Cana Catholic Primary School, from Hillside in Melbourne’s western suburbs and have been delivered by a small contingent of staff, a parent, and a student.

‘In Religious Education we’ve been learning about missions – carrying out missions of Christ in our community,’ said Jake Schembri, Grade 6 teacher at Cana Catholic Primary School.

‘We did some research on what’s out there in our community in the western suburbs and we came across Spectrum and the [Refugee and] Asylum Seeker Toy Drive. We voted as a class that we thought that it would be a really worthy cause to donate some toys – something a little different to the usual food donations that we might do throughout the year.

‘We have quite a few students who come from refugee backgrounds, so I think its relevant and it really hit home for some of them. It was good to see that connection.

‘The kids have really been on board and excited to donate toys. It started with the grade sixes, but we opened it up to the broader school community, which was great.

‘We announced it at assembly and put posters up around the school. It was a whole class effort because the kids promoted it; spread the news. They went around to all the classrooms and spoke about the importance of doing God’s mission and helping those less fortunate than us.’

Sofia, Year 6 student and leader agreed: ‘I like the idea of giving kids toys because I feel like everyone should be able to play with toys and have that opportunity.’

Sofia’s sentiment resonates well with Spectrum’s own mission to advocate, promote inclusion, and champion belonging for people from diverse backgrounds.

Since 2015, Spectrum has partnered with the Refugee and Asylum Seeker Toy Drive, an initiative founded by Christopher Stenton who made it his mission to collect and distribute toys to refugee and asylum seeker children in Australia.

‘This is my favourite thing of the year,’ said Brent Serry, Manager of Settlement, Family Services and Service Development at Spectrum.

‘We love giving out the toys. We have an event here (in Sunshine) and one in Dallas. We invite heaps of families to come and choose a toy for their kids. Often, it’s the first time these kids have ever had a brand-new toy. It’s just amazing – the smiles and the joy.’

From everyone at Spectrum, we offer our heartfelt thanks to the students, teachers and parents from the Cana Catholic Primary School community. Our gratitude also to Christopher Stenton from the Refugee and Asylum Seeker Toy Drive. Our combined missions will bring joy and a sense of belonging to many children from refugee backgrounds.

If you would like to donate to Spectrum’s end of year toy giveaway, please contact Brent Serry via