Barnabas Oley Church of England Primary School
Early in March 2022, shortly after war broke out in Ukraine, Lauren and Harvey's family contacted their teachers to say, after talking about how helpless they felt at the awful situation, Lauren and Harvey wanted to come up with a plan to help the people in Ukraine. They had the idea to use the national flower of Ukraine and sell little 'grow your own sunflower' kits, alongside handmade God's eyes (traditionally kept near someone when praying, reminding them of God's protection). They asked if they could sell them in school and in the four Benefice churches for people to leave donations, their answer was, of course! Their parents also supported them with the project, wanting to encourage them to learn that every little bit of goodness can make a difference.
The children made up the kits, wove the God's eyes and brought them into church at the start of a service, which included prayer for Ukraine. Over that month, the kits and eyes were available in all four churches, alongside dedicated prayer spaces, prayer and information on the Disasters Committee Emergency Appeal for Ukraine. The churches also then took the kits and God's eyes to the village community cafes, the Lighthouse Cafe and Reading Room Cafe, where even more were sold, and the wider communities in the villages got to hear of the children's vision.
The Benefice churches were also further inspired by the children to hold a special Evensong service and collection for the DEC appeal. In the end, the total monies raised by the children's Sunflower Project and their example of turning care into practical action, led to around £800 being given to DEC. The sunflower seeds and eyes raised over £400 alone!
Headteacher Michelle Downes said of the student's actions, "Jesus said, 'if you have faith as large as a sunflower/mustard seed, then you can move mountains'.... This was brave, compassionate and courageous advocacy in action. We are humbled and grateful to them for shining light in the darkness.".