Festive tradition turns 40

St Gertrude’s Catholic Primary School hall resounded with festive spirit yet another year as the school’s 673 students welcomed local senior citizens to experience its much-loved tradition of a Christmas feast with all of the trimmings.

“It teaches the students to appreciate a sense of giving rather than receiving.”

The enthusiasm of St Gertrude’s students turned up loud enough to be heard from across the street as 89 seniors from six Nursing Homes from areas surrounding Austral, Greystanes, Chester Hill, Chipping Norton, Bossley Park and Villawood arrived.

“The generosity of our students, from Kindergarten to Year 6, to host a morning tea and to truly reach out to the elderly who may not have family around at this time continues to be a long-standing annual tradition at this school,” said event Co-ordinator Nicole Vella. “It teaches the students to appreciate a sense of giving rather than receiving.”

St Gertrude’s Senior Citizens’ Christmas Party has been running at the school since 1975, when then Principal, Sr Patricia Snell rsj, initiated the event.

Now in its 40th year, the steady attendance growth and eagerness of the seniors to partake in the occasion is equally shared every year.

Graham Pillar, a senior residing at the Merrylands Aged Care Centre, said that he felt uplifted from the social experience every time.

“I have been coming here for the last three years and every time I am amazed by the atmosphere that is created by the singing and selfless efforts of the students,” Mr Pillar said.

“This year, I was delighted by the personally made and handwritten Christmas Card which Sarah, in year 5, made for me.”

Every year, the students have fun serving refreshments, singing Christmas carols, performing and bringing in homemade food and handmade gifts to hand out to the seniors.

This year, Anna Fedele and Nancy Chirenian, from Year 6, said that they made Christmas Candy Canes and paper stars to hand out because they were a symbol of Christmas.

“It’s been made form our hearts and hands, and we wanted to make the elderly people happy,” said Anna.

“Hopefully it will give them hope and remind them that we are their friends,” added Nancy.

Teacher Ian Bennie, who was in charge of the choir’s performances, said that any left over gifts would be donated to the St Vincent de Paul Society.

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