Avishai Kessel, a year four student at Kesser Torah College in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, spent seven months collecting recyclable bottles for the NSW Government’s Return and Earn scheme.
Incredibly, he collected 4320 bottles earning a sizeable $432. The money was never intended to be spent on toys for himself, but rather to help buy toys or equipment for others, who needed them more. Every cent went to the Sydney Children’s Hospital. “It will make the sick children able to get out of the hospital quicker and faster and enjoy their life”
Avishai was tireless in his efforts to collect the bottles. He spent countless hours picking up the discarded containers from his local sports ground and at the beach. His friends put their empty bottles in a tub he brought along to sports games and he visited the City2Surf marathon to collect recyclable bottles from spectators and competitors.
But collecting the bottles is about more than tidying up rubbish left behind by others. “It’s helping the community,” he says. “And it’s not just me in the community. It’s other people. It makes me feel happy that I’m helping the environment.”
His generosity was recognised by former NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, who launched the Return and Earn scheme in 2017.
Having heard about Avishai’s hard work and generosity, Ms Upton joined the director of philanthropy at Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, Susan Wynne, to personally congratulate him before the donation was presented to the hospital.
Avishai hopes young people will be inspired by his efforts and says he was partly motivated to collect the bottles by his school teachers who taught him about helping the community and being responsible for the environment.
“Last year we did a project on recycling,” he says. “I felt like when it came to the personal interest project I chose recycling because I already knew a lot about it.”
His teachers, he says, “think that it was actually a good idea and they’re proud of me.”
He also found inspiration in beliefs taught within Judaism, his own faith.
“It says in the Torah that when you save one person’s life it’s like saving the whole entire world,” he says. “It resonates with me because I’m Jewish. It’s Jewish law and it’s important. And it actually makes sense.”
Avishai hasn’t taken a break from his charitable works. He’s now back at sports fields and beaches collecting discarded bottles in his trusty tub to raise more money for charity.