Milton Abbey School celebrated Harvest Festival on Sunday 9th October, one of many Christian communities doing so around the country, however this year our focus was on the refugees in Europe.
Last year pupils successfully collected and donated 12 crates of food for the Blandford Food Bank, a local charity that supplies food parcels to those who are struggling to feed their families. This year, pupils decided to look further afield, to those who have had no chance to even contemplate a harvest, but who have fled their homes due to persecution or war, and are living in refugee camps in Europe. As a result pupils opted not to stick to the traditional idea of giving food, but other basics such as shelter, warm clothes, toiletries and rucksacks.
Earlier this term Freddie, a pupil in his final year at Milton Abbey, gave a sermon during a school service to raise awareness about this initiative, asking pupils to return from their exeat weekend with donations and supplies for refugees in Europe.
These would be collected by Blandford CARES, an organisation set up by Mike and Suzi Hearn that collects donations and supplies for refugees in camps across Europe, with a particular focus on the camp in Calais. Mike and Suzi were recent visitors to the Milton Abbey Christian Union and we were delighted that they were able to join us again at our Harvest Festival morning service.
Donations from pupils included rucksacks, camping equipment and other essential supplies for teenagers in the camp. A makeshift boat and life jackets at the front of the Abbey served as a poignant reminder of what challenges the refugees had faced as they tried to escape terror, war and persecution in search of a safer life.