Christmas is a time for giving, and for those who are in most need, the gesture is even more meaningful. To show their support for people in the community, a group of students made it their mission to spread some festive spirit. This year the Salvation Army launched a pilot program called Hope Internship, and five students from Caringbah and Woolooware high school jumped on board. It is an initiative designed for students who are passionate about social justice and making a difference in the community. The program teaches students the skills needed to be innovative, strategic, and influential leaders - now and in the future. Participants in this year's program met together all year to work on community engagement, fundraising and advocacy projects supported by a network of professionals from the Salvos and the community. The program was initiated and run by Roza Gutschow, who worked closely with the local corps and services in the Shire Salvos area where the schools were based. Students created a pantry box to support homeless people who are sleeping rough in the Royal National Park. Students wanted people to have access to food when needed, so they spent the year fundraising to put the project together. They celebrated their achievements and showcased the food pantry for The Salvation Army's new mission work at Heathcote. Both schools are committed to providing food for the pantry on a long term basis. "Our pantry box was originally created because we decided that there wasn't enough available," one of the interns Hannah, said. "We wanted to create something for people that not only benefited people when they needed it but was able for the community to give when they had too much and take when they had too little." It's hoped that a second year of the program will be offered in 2024. Want more local news? Sign up for your free weekly newsletter.