Minnie Vinnes in Dorrigo

Students at Mt St John Primary School in Dorrigo have raised enough money to purchase specially designed backpack beds for the homeless.

Student volunteers, known as the ‘Minnie Vinnies’, raised the money by selling off their handcrafted knitted wares at local markets.   

While attending extracurricular classes last term, the Minnie Vinnies learnt to knit handmade socks, scarfs and bags which are highly sought-after at their local markets.

“We have been fundraising in many ways to try to raise awareness to the plight of homelessness and support the homeless in our area,” teacher Sue Darby said.

“When we were researching how best to help, we came across the backpack beds and wanted to get involved. So we have had many fundraising initiatives and raised enough money to purchase three beds.”

The backpack beds in question are modified swags, specifically designed for people on the streets - a 2.9kg backpack that rolls out to an all-weather protected bed.

They have been proven to improve homeless health, dignity, sleep, warmth, comfort, self-esteem and safety, and are designed to help the 21 per cent of street-sleeping homeless who suffer hypothermia, frostbite or trench foot.

Tim Chard, a Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) worker at Pathfinders in Glen Innes, went to the school last Friday for a demonstration on how the backpack beds work and was impressed by the effort of the Minnie Vinnies.

“I can’t believe the quality of the gear these kids have made and the passion they have to help people who are in need,” Mr Chard said.    

“What they have done will have a direct impact on the lives of the homeless in our region.”

The Minnie Vinnies also provided a blanket made from old school uniforms and embroidered it with positive messengers to let whoever uses the backpack beds know that people do care.

This year 40,878 Australians will sleep on our streets.

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