By CELA on 3 Feb, 2023

From ‘Milford Money’ to raising money 

The original intention behind Market Day was not to raise money. It was actually a bright spark from an educator who had an idea to hold a day for the children based around reducing, reusing and recycling. Each group at the centre was to come up with an idea for a store and then fill the store with donations from families and the local community. From clothes to homemade playdough, plants and books, Market Day had it all.  

“On the day, we planned to give all of the children five dollars of ‘Milford Money’ as they walked through the gates,” recalls Molly Stewart, Director at Milford Lodge. “As we were preparing for Market Day, we realised that many of the donations still had tags on them. So we thought the parents might also like to do some shopping on the day.” 

This is where the idea for fundraising came in. If parents wanted to buy anything, they could pay a few dollars, and the money would be donated to the local RSPCA and The Smith Family Appeal. These charities were selected by team members actively involved in them at the time. In that first year, they raised $200. Over the years, Milford Lodge has raised money for orphanages in Cambodia, centre families facing health battles, Beyond Blue and more. Many of the beneficiaries hold special meaning for the Milford Lodge team and families. 

Image showing teenager Samara (Milford Lodge kindergarten group of 2005) who returned to help raise money for a library in Bali during the 2017 Market Day 

Involving the local community 

The educators come in on the weekend to run Market Day, an event much loved by the current and past Milford Lodge families. But the event has also been a hit with the local community. 

“Many members of our local community will have a stall and donate something to the raffle,” explains Molly. “Families will even buy a voucher for a local restaurant and donate it! We run a sausage sizzle on the day and buy the sausages from the local butcher, who gives us a good cost price.” 

Market Day also receives raffle prize donations from the centre’s fruit and vegetable supplier, their stationery supplier and other local businesses. 

Milford Lodge team members come up with new and innovative FUNdraising ideas every year, including 'throw a wet sponge at Superman' shown in the photo below. 

All hands on deck 

2022 was the 12th Milford Lodge Market Day. The day has been held every year since 2009, missing just one year due to bad weather and another due to the pandemic. Molly humbly says that it’s the incredible team and community that make the day the continuing success that it is. 

More than that, Market Day is a chance for the children to learn about responsibility and showcase their capabilities. 

“One year, one of the boys in our Kindergarten group cleaned out his room and brought along his things to sell,” Molly shares. “He ended up making $17 from the day and wanted to donate the entire amount. We encouraged him to buy something for himself, and after spending only $1, he ended up donating the remaining $16.” 

Another child set to work making delicious organic chocolate avocado mousse served in teacups from his family’s retro Combi. As a testament to how powerful Market Day is for the children, the centre also often welcomes back past students to run their own stalls.  

Image of the 'ever popular' apple slinky cart

More than Market Day 

This annual event is just one way that the children at Milford Lodge experience and connect with the community. The families generously donate to the Buderim Guide to Giving campaign, supported by MP Brent Mickelberg. The educators also take the children on regular outings to the mobile truck library, tennis courts and the local park.  

With such an impressive amount donated to the community to date, Market Day will surely only go from strength to strength. Other local centres have been so inspired by Milford Lodge that they now run their own events.


Further reading relating to this topic:

Amplify! How we engaged our community during Child Protection Week by Victoria Avenue Children's Centre

Amplify! How four little cameras facilitated greater connections with children and families by Coonara Early Learning Centre

Amplify! Granbuddies program provides vital social interactions with the elderly with Redhead Preschool

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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