Toni Kirkpatrick.
Toni Kirkpatrick.

Smith Family helping kids for 95 years

THE Smith Family is 95 years old this year and the story of how it got its name is worth retelling.

In 1922, five businessmen walked into a Sydney orphanage with toys and sweets. When asked who the children should thank, one of them, preferring to remain anonymous, said "Smith".

"What about the others?" the matron asked.

"They're Smiths, too. We're the Smith family."

And thus the national not-for-profit, which looks after disadvantaged children, The Smith Family, was born.

The charity has learning clubs in three Sunshine Coast state schools - Maroochydore, Nambour and Burnside - and to find out what the clubs do, Seniors spoke to Toni Kirkpatrick, who has been the Maroochydore club co-ordinator for some years.

Toni is a former Townsville City Councillor whose portfolio included community services. The 66 year old is retired now and she is proud to be a Smith Family volunteer.

"I love what it stands for. I didn't want to be someone who just supports it. I have a social work degree and I wanted to do hands-on stuff. I love the kids. They are such good fun.

"The children come from families whose parents are unemployed or on a low wage. We help them get a good education and sometimes, when parents can't afford like camp fees or proper school uniforms, the learning club gives them extra assistance.

"It's the kids that want to do well at school who need that extra bit of help."

Toni said the children come to the learning club in the library.

"We usually have three or four tutors, usually TAFE students doing teacher's aide as part of their course.

"We give them afternoon tea, sit down with them with their homework or whatever they need some help with. We have a strong core of 12 children and we've had up to 19.

"Sometimes they just like to have a chat and say what's in their lives. It's lovely."


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