Bowraville Pays It Forward

June 29, 2021 by nswadmin

They say one good deed deserves another and that adage certainly rings true in the tiny town of Bowraville on the NSW north coast.

The rural community had already been affected by drought when the devastating bushfires of 2019 saw many families lose their homes. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, it brought with it disastrous consequences for those who had already suffered through tough times.

But you know what they say about when the going gets tough…

As schools all around the country closed, Bowraville Central School reached out to Variety NSW/ ACT and applied for Variety’s Tech4Schools grant.

We were thrilled to be able to support the school by supplying 129 laptops for their students from Kindergarten to Year 12 – many of whom had no access to technology at home.

The devices enabled students to stay connected to their teachers and their friends and to fully participate in remote learning lessons.

Bowraville Central School, Community Liaison Officer, Megan Cochrane, said the students and teachers were overwhelmed to receive support in such a time of need.

“We were all just so grateful – we couldn’t believe it! So I did some research regarding Variety and discovered the Variety Australia ‘Hair with Heart’ program. I thought it may be a good way for our students to ‘pay it forward’ after they had received such generosity themselves,” she said.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) guided by Teacher, Jan Sheriff, wasted no time in taking on the fundraising initiative and asking for volunteers to take the chop.

School Learning Support Officer, Bonni Sambrook, was the first to put her hand up followed by Year 12 student, Alexi Reynolds.

“When the SRC started talking about the Hair with Heart program, I had lots of teachers come up to me and ask if I would cut my hair,” Alexi said.

“I chose to get involved because I’ve had family and friends that suffered with cancer. I was also in need of a haircut!”

Alexi and Bonni visited local work places and asked for donations. Teachers at the school donated and the SRC also asked school families to give what they could.

By the time of the big chop, the school had raised $1115 – an incredible effort for a school of only 170 students and a community with a population of just 1122 in total!

The Bowraville community came together for the ‘çhopping day’ with students and staff encouraged to join in by sporting çrazy hair and former Bowraville Central School student, Maryjane Campbell – now a hairdresser in Nambucca Heads – kindly donating her time to cut the ponytails.

Alexi said it was a fantastic day and thanked everyone involved for their support and donations.

“It felt good that people I didn’t even know were making donations to support me. My school was proud – they gave me great encouragement,” she said.

“It makes me feel good knowing that I helped and I could turn a child’s life around. It’s so important and rewarding,” she said.

Bonni said she was also proud and honoured to have taken part.

“Imagine not having a choice to have hair? Hair can mean a lot to someone who is suffering and just wants to be like everyone else. I’d do it all over again to give a child that happiness,” she said.

“Taking the chop also raised awareness about what some of these children are going through. I’m hoping by donating my hair I have set an example to the students that there are things they can do to help those less fortunate than themselves. Representing myself, my school, my community and my family – there is no question I would do it again.”

Our friends in Bowraville are already making plans to make the big chop an annual school event, with students beginning to grow their hair again.

Now it’s our turn to be thankful for the support of one small town showing the world what a difference it can make when we all work together to practice gratitude, show kindness and help those in need.

Find out more about Hair with Heart