Forty students from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) descended on Wyangala Golf Course and Wyangala Dam Public School on Sunday to lend a helping hand as a part of the volunteer program, The Big Lift.
The students spent the morning creating a butterfly garden and doing some landscaping at the school, while another group helped paint barricades for flower beds and cleaned up debris at the golf course.
Willyn Carrascal from The Big Lift said it was the second day of a nine day journey to Melbourne.
“We go to nine different towns, we’ve got two buses with 80 students, today we’ve got 36 students with us, half of us are here at the school and half at the golf course,” she said.
“The other group is in Mandurama.”
The next stop on the journey will be Ganmain before the students head to towns such as Harcourt, Finley and Whitton and towards Melbourne, where they will form a flashmob in Federation Square and perform Random Acts of Kindness on the streets.
Along the way, the students volunteer to help community organisations with different projects while they stay in community, school or church halls each night.
Willyn said it gives city students the chance to see rural communities.
“A lot of people haven’t been to rural towns so even hearing the (Wyangala Dam Public) school has five students, it was mindblowing,” she said.
“Everything we do, even though it seems like it’s not that big of an impact for the community, it is… we just wanted to give back to the community.”
One of The Big Lift crew members, Rachel Nordon, said the trip also gives students the opportunity to learn new skills.
“One of these girls has never painted something like a building before, another guy at the other place had never planted a tree, it sounds really naive but… it’s good they are learning these skills,” she said.
She said the opportunity to Pay It Forward is the reason she keeps coming back each year.
“It’s a very addictive feeling once you get started, The Big Lift shows us it’s okay just to help someone and not get anything in return or not expect anything in return,” Rachel said.
“We’ve found with the townspeople, they’ve been incredibly responsive and generous, it creates that connection between student and town.”