What Is Mini Vinnies?
Mini Vinnies are social justice action groups run in Catholic primary schools. The name ‘Mini Vinnies’ gives these groups an official affiliation with the St Vincent de Paul Society. Mini Vinnies is a way of replicating the model of the St Vincent de Paul Society, that is, people giving up their time to reflect on their faith and do actions that help others in the community. In this way, they too are part of an international network of lay people committed to social justice.
Schools are encouraged to commission their Mini Vinnies and present them with a special Mini Vinnies badge that recognises their involvement.
These groups are as student led as possible, however, a teacher is always present at meetings and activities for guidance and support. Each school runs their Mini Vinnies uniquely and makes the iniative work in with their other programs and activities. Depending on the school, the Mini Vinnies either apply to be part of the group, or anyone can volunteer. They all consist of primary school aged children who are committed to making a positive difference to their world through simple but effective initiatives. It is a way to make children’s beliefs and values meaningful and relevant through action.
What Do Mini Vinnies Do?
Responding to the call to love our neighbour, Mini Vinnies meet regularly to learn about and discuss community issues that are important to them. Children are encouraged to think deeper about their actions and then to explore ways to make a hands on difference to the community.
The program provides students with leadership opportunities and is a challenging and rewarding experience – they have a lot of fun too!
Mini Vinnies are encouraged to ‘SEE – THINK – DO’ which is based upon the popular Young Christian Workers model of ‘See Judge Act’.
SEE – Education and awareness – What is happening, why and to whom?
THINK – Formation – How do I feel about this? What does my faith and values say about this?
DO – Community service and fundraising – What can I do now to help?
It is requires students to invest their own time and talents to understanding the issue behind the activity, relating it to personal values, and reflecting on how it will benefit others.
Mini Vinnies are provided them with the opportunity to connect to their local St Vincent de Paul conference members, statewide St Vincent de Paul Society programs, as well as a series of additional resources such as activity ideas, reflections and more, which help to make the connection between faith in action.
Some examples of Mini Vinnies activities are:
- Finding fun ways for the school community to collect non-perishable goods for the Feast of the Sacred Heart
- Running a Friendship bench in the playground and looking out for people who don’t have anyone to play with that day
- Doing a blanket/beanie/sock drive for the Winter Appeal
- Having breakfast each week with the residents of the local aged care facility
- Making items to sell to raise money for the Assist A Student program
- … plus lots more!
How Do I Start A Mini Vinnies At My School?
There are no two Mini Vinnies groups that operate the same – so it’s an extremely flexible program and schools will make it fit in with their existing activities. The Mission and Social Justice Coordinator can share what other schools do and make suggestions that will best benefit the school and the students.
If you think that a Mini Vinnies group is an initiative that your school would like to be part of:
1. Contact the Mission and Social Justice Coordinator (details are listed to the right of this page) to have an initial conversation about ideas and expectations.
2. A meeting is set up at the school between the teacher who will be coordinating the Mini Vinnies, the REC (if different) and the local St Vincent de Paul Society conference representative. This part is important as Mini Vinnies do well when they have the local connection to their conference (where possible). At this meeting, Mini Vinnies is explained in more detail, and ideas are discussed and questions answered.
3. The coordinating teacher is then asked to register their school (free) and will receive a login for the Mini Vinnies Resource Page.
4. The Mission and Social Justice Coordinator will then give a class talk to the grade/s who the Mini Vinnies will be open to. The talk covers who the St Vincent de Paul Society are, why they are needed as much as ever today, and who Mini Vinnies are. If the school has already chosen the Mini Vinnies students, the Mission and Social Justice Coordinator might visit one of the first meetings and run an activity with the group.
5. Once the group is established, the school is encouraged to Commission their Mini Vinnies at a mass or assembly. At any stage, they are able to contact the Mission and Social Justice Coordinator for ideas and advice. They are encouraged to keep in contact with their local conference member. The St Vincent de Paul Society sends out a newsletter each term with ideas and new resources.
Mini Vinnies Info Sheet (PDF) – a printable version of the information above
What Do Students & Teachers Say About Mini Vinnies?
We are very grateful to students and teachers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary in Sunbury and St Michael’s in Berwick, for allowing us to interview them about their experiences of Mini Vinnies. Below are three short videos.
What Does A Parish Priest Say About Mini Vinnies?
We thank Fr John Corrigan for his lovely write up on his experience meeting and commissioning the Mini Vinnies at St Joseph’s in Penshurst.
Read his blog entry here: Little People, Big Job
Mini Vinnies Resources:
For further resources to help you set up and run your group please click here
If you have any questions about Mini Vinnies please email us at email@example.com or if you would like to request a visit, start up or have any donations please fill at the form at the end of this page.
What is a College Conference…
A College Conference is a group of committed students who meet regularly and follow the Mission and Vision of the St Vincent de Paul Society. These students are passionate about Social Justice and seek to help those in need in a variety of creative ways and seek to live out their faith through action, exemplified in their Vincentian spirituality.. From fundraisers and collections, to advocacy and awareness raising campaigns, these students prove that young people can make a difference.
What can College Conferences do…
The actions of College conferences generally involve three components: see, think and do.
‘See’ – Education & Awareness
A lot of people don’t understand why some people are disadvantaged. Your conference might decide to educate others in your school about social justice issues.
- Hold a sleepover – raising awareness about homelessness
- Hold lunch time talks
- Arrange guest speakers for assemblies
- Show short movies at lunch time
- Put notices in the student bulletin
- Hold a fashion parade using clothes from Vinnies Centres
‘Think’ – Formation & Reflection
In coming together as a College Conference members will have the opportunity to mull over social justice through spiritual reflections, discussions, prayer and debate.
- Opening and closing prayer at meetings
- Peace Out – Spiritual Reflections
- Fact Sheets – for example Cyber Bullying, Discrimination, Domestic Violence, Indigenous Australians, Overseas Partnership and Development
‘Do’ – Community Service & Fundraising
Your college conference might like to focus on practically helping people in need.
- Soup Van
- Tutoring Programs
- Nursing Home Visits
- Volunteer at your local Vinnies Centre
A great way to help people in need is to fundraise for the St Vincent de Paul Society.
- Toy/book/clothes/food/blanket drives
- Casual clothes/free dress days
- Movie nights
- A coin line
- Vinnies Fashion Parade/free dress day – where all outfits are purchased at your local Vinnies Store
- Trivia nights
Benefits for students…
- Make a difference in the community
- Put faith into action
- Meet like-minded people
- Be a role model for others
- Develop leadership skills – involvement in the Footsteps of Frederic Leadership Program
- Community engagement experience for your resume and university applications
- Participate in fantastic activities
- Expand comfort zone
Benefits for school…
- Provides link to wider community
- Encourages their students to develop social justice awareness
- Great publicity
- Avenue for student ownership over fundraising projects
- Make a difference in school community and wider community
- Supports link for graduating students to enter young adult conferences
College Conference Resources
To access College Conference Resources please click here
If you have any questions about College Conferences please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you would like to request a visit, start up or have any donations please fill at the form at the end of this page.