Good work keeps growing

St James’ Primary School, Kotara South has decided it’s time to make some noise about three of its quiet volunteers, Bob Smith, and Margaret and Doug Thornton.

Acting principal Lucy Harvey seeks acknowledgment for the immeasurable impact of “these three treasures” on the school environment at St James’ for which it is well known. The trio has dedicated many years of work to the school’s Green Team and outdoor education areas.

“Bob, Margaret and Doug are three of the most beautiful, generous, selfless people I know,” Ms Harvey said. “We don’t think of them as volunteers, we think of them as family. Bob doesn’t even have grandchildren at the school anymore.”

Mr Smith and Mr and Mrs Thornton dedicate hours each week to the St James’ community as well as maintaining the school’s vegies and livestock during the holidays.

“Bob has a wide and varied set of skills that he employs in the tasks he undertakes throughout the school,” Ms Harvey said. “These include creating seating for students, hanging and moving pinboards when teachers re-vision their classrooms, creating garden beds to allow students to experience growing plants, and building and upgrading chicken coops and an aquaponics garden. The list goes on.

“Bob always has suggestions on how to best perform these tasks and no job is ever too hard or menial for him to take on. Bob, Margie and Doug’s contributions to our St James’ community has had a positive impact on the environment that our students, staff and parents experience each day.

Margie and Doug are environmental warriors, tirelessly taking on the extensive school vegetable garden and looking after our school ‘farm’ animals. They come into the school at all times and days of the week to water, feed, collect eggs, let the chickens in and out of their pens and harvest crops.

“Margie and Doug give up time to assist the Green Team and work with students to create gardens within the school grounds to keep the bush setting alive. Their sustained commitment to our school is a major driving force that keeps our environmental programs running. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, they come down to school every weekend to ensure the gardens and animals survive.”

Mr Smith has been volunteering at St James’ for the past 10 years and has a long association with the school. His own children and grandchildren attended St James’. He could see the school needed things done and he had the time to complete the jobs.

“I enjoy being around the kids and making things better for them,” he said. “I like to make things look good and see the change when a job is completed." 

Mr and Mrs Thornton have also been volunteering for the past decade, inspired by the first of their five grandchildren commencing at St James'. They consider their nomination for recognition of their volunteering contribution as unnecessary and embarrassing.  “We love the children and their enthusiasm for learning to garden and their appreciation of the chickens and birds,” they said.

Ms Harvey says the school has benefitted greatly from these three outstanding volunteers who are much loved and admired members of the St James’ community.

“Due to their dedication we have been able to sustain environmental programs within the school that would have been impossible without their support,” she said. “The school grounds are enhanced by their attention to not only the gardens and animals but the whole aesthetic. Through their constant commitment to continue their volunteering, Bob, Maggie and Doug have allowed us to use school funds for other educational purposes. We are truly blessed to have these dedicated people, who truly make a difference, as part of our community.” 

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