The Smith Family (charity)
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The Smith Family is an Australian, independent non-profit children's charity whose goal is to create opportunities for disadvantaged children and their families and encourage them to participate more fully in society, using education as the a key tool.
Shortly before Christmas in 1922, five businessmen returning from a trip to the Blue Mountains visited an orphanage to share the Christmas spirit by providing the children with toys and sweets. Wishing their donation to be anonymous, each man responded as "Smith" when asked his name by the matron of the establishment.
And so The Smith Family came into existence.
During the Depression of the late 1920s and early 30s, The Smith Family assisted with the food and clothing needs of thousands of Australians as unemployment soared, and responsibility for the care of children and families fell to organisations such as The Smith Family.
In 1933 when rheumatic fever became a major health issue affecting children, The Smith Family set up a special hospital, Mt Arcadia in North Parramatta, to care for them. It closed in 1958.
The 1970s saw The Smith Family react to the needs of refugee families fleeing war in Vietnam and Timor and supporting the residents of Darwin recover from the devastation inflicted by Cyclone Tracey.
In Australia today more than 605,000 children* are living in jobless families. For these children, the effects of their family’s financial disadvantage go beyond the pressures of not having enough money for the basics; it can prevent them from accessing the same educational and life opportunities as their peers.
The Smith Family believes that every child deserves a chance and that circumstances should never limit the achievement of potential. With research showing that education has the power to transform lives, not just minds, the national charity’s Learning for Life program enables disadvantaged children and young people to get the opportunities they need to fully participate in their education and create better futures for themselves.
Learning for Life provides long term support for young Australians in need, all the way through their schooling years. This approach gives ongoing assistance to disadvantaged students so they can develop and build vital life skills, stay engaged in their education and have the best opportunity to break the cycle of disadvantage.
Through Learning for Life, The Smith Family connects students to sponsors whose financial support helps families afford the cost of their children’s essential school items such as uniforms, text books and school excursions. Learning for Life workers in 97 communities link students to local learning opportunities and also encourage them to make the most of their education through participating in a range of learning support and mentoring programs.
The Smith Family’s work is evidence-led and strengthened by a network of strong partnerships with corporate and community organisations as well as individual sponsors, donors and volunteers, including the 20,000 members of VIEW Clubs of Australia.
Each year over 7,000 volunteers contribute to Smith Family programs across the country.
The Smith Family operates clothing donation bins, into which people deposit used clothing.