COWWARR Primary School students and the wider community raised money and awareness for the homeless with the return of their annual Gumboot-a-thon event, beating their fundraising goal in the process.

On the morning of Friday June 17, the students yelled “Go Cowwarr Team” just after 10am, and the Gumboot-a-thon began.

The primary school kids walked around the block in their gumboots as part of a fundraiser to provide sleeping bags to the homeless in Gippsland to keep themselves warm this winter.

The first walk took place over an hour, and after recess, the students put their gumboots back on and walked for another hour, and enjoyed some well-deserved hotdogs.

Gumboot-a-thon, first lap around Cowwarr Primary School. Photos: Stefan Bradley

The weather was perfect; it wasn’t too cold in the morning but there were still some damp spots to stomp with the gumboots.

And it got warmer as the day went on.

Joining the students were family members and their dogs, and Cowwarr community members.

Leading Senior Constables Sarah Reggardo and Kim Kell also showed up to support the Gumboot-a-thon.

The participants brought their own gumboots, and were encouraged to decorate them.

Also present were Uniting Gippsland, who partnered with Cowwarr Primary School for the initiative.

Uniting Gippsland manager for Children, Youth and Family Heidi Hunter said they were contacted by the school, who said they wanted to support the local homeless community.

“We’re supporting the Gumboot-a-thon, because helping the homeless is part of our core business and we’re really passionate about it,” Ms Hunter said.

“At Uniting (in Sale), we are an Opening Doors entry point, which means we are the starting place for people who are experiencing homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness, to access support and information. Over the past financial year we have supported over 400 people through our entry point, with a range of different services and support. We also provide emergency relief services for the community.”

In 2018, the first year that Cowwarr Primary School ran the Gumboot-a-thon, the school raised $2000 for drought relief.

In 2019, they raised $2000 once again for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Due to COVID, there was no event in 2020 and 2021.

For 2022, the students smashed their target of raising $2000.

Mr Fitt told the Gippsland Times that by the end of the day they had raised at least $2100.

“We’ve beaten our expectation with that figure and there’s still some lap pledges we need to count. We auctioned a gumboot on our Facebook page which sold for $200,” Mr Fitt said.

“The total funds raised once we finish the count may be over $2500!”

[Note: On June 24, the school reported they raised over $4000, doubling their target!]

Mr Fitt said this was the best Gumboot-a-thon yet.

“Cowwarr Primary School children just want to see people warm this winter. So we did something about it,” he said.

“One of the nice things about all this is that the school is not just for itself, but is here for the community. That’s what’s nice about a small school like this.”

“Thank you to the kids, parents and people in the community for supporting our team in trying to make our community better. The children are now thinking about the next Gumboot-a-thon and where they can donate the money.”

Chloe (front) with Trixie the dog, April (back left) and Barb.

Student Chloe said the Gumboot-a-thon was a “really good thing”.

“It’s raising money for the homeless, and homeless people every day are out on the streets trying to get money. And it’s not really fair for the people who get houses and for the people that don’t,” Chloe said.

“So I think it’s a really good idea to raise money for all of them.”

Another student, April, also said the Gumboot-a-thon was a good idea.

“It raises money for the homeless, so then they can keep warm, even if they can’t afford a home,” April said.

As the kids said at the start of the Gumboot-a-thon: Go Cowwarr Team!

[Originally published in the Gippsland Times on June 21]

Leading Senior Constables Sarah Reggardo and Kim Kell supported the Gumboot-a-thon.

Decorated paper gumboots. Kids had their laps recorded here.

Leading Senior Constable high-fives Kaley. Photo: Stefan Bradley

April’s decorated gumboots. Photo: Stefan Bradley.

April with her decorated gumboot at Cowwarr Primary School.