Lourdes Hill social justice project so much more than a knitted square

If you stood in Lourdes Hill College’s Soubirous Place, on the day the College launched its annual 2021 Middle School project, Blankets for Brisbane, you would have been filled with an overwhelming feeling of warmth.

Soubirous Place, aptly named after St Bernadette Soubirous, is a popular open-air hub where students can eat and relax during their breaks.

On the morning of the launch in May this year, Soubirous Place was dotted with purple—the standout colour of the College.

It was a morning where staff and students worked together on a project that is at the very heart of the College – helping those doing it tough. They were knitting, or learning how to knit, squares that would be joined to make blankets.

Students were keen to learn, others keen to teach, and staff members keen to lend a hand. But what started out as a project to help others became much more than a knitted square.

Principal Robyn Anderson said she felt proud. “Lourdes Hill is renowned for its social justice projects. These projects are built on the values of peace, kindness, love and helping those in need. Values that the Good Samaritan Sisters embedded in the College they established 105 years ago, and values that are woven into Lourdes Hill’s daily life.”

Nine years ago, the College instigated Blankets for Brisbane so that students in Years 7, 8 and 9 could be involved in a collaborative social justice project.

Deputy Principal Middle School Cathy Hains said the College soon realised that the project that had the aim of helping others had this wonderful spinoff – it connected people.  

“Blankets for Brisbane gave students, especially those new to the school, a common purpose, a place to come at lunchtime, to connect with others, make friends, and enjoy a laugh while knitting for those in need,” Cathy said.

The project gained momentum and it didn’t take long before parents, grandparents and the wider community hopped on board and began knitting.

One of the students, Hannah, said she got involved because she wanted to share love and positivity with those facing difficulty and hardship.

“I could not knit previously, however, lunchtime knitting lessons with teachers and friends with additional visits to Granny on the weekend allowed me to knit many squares,” Hannah said. “I really enjoyed knowing everything I did was helping someone else less fortunate.”

Another student, Jessica, said she saw the project as an opportunity to help others in need and to make the children who received the blankets happy and warm.

“I loved the idea that everyone in the school could contribute, because everyone only needed to make at least one square to help the cause,” Jessica said.

“The best part was seeing all of the finished blankets. They were a perfect representation of how hard the Middle School community worked.

“Something new that I learned about myself was that I really like knitting, and I really like to help others. I made lots of new friends while I was knitting.”

What started out as a project to make knitted squares became so much more. It brought people together, friendships were forged, hundreds of squares were knitted, and more than 40 blankets were lovingly made and donated to people who students, staff and the wider community may never meet.

Lourdes Hill College in Hawthorne, Queensland, continues in the tradition of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan and belongs to the community of 10 schools across Australia called Good Samaritan Education.