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Cyclone Debbie: Student living 1,000km away raises thousands for Mackay schoolbooks

A boy smiles holding out a stack of books
Maverick started the campaign after he watched news reports of damage from tropical cyclone Debbie on TV.

ABC Tropical North: Sophie Meixner

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A 12-year-old who lives 1,000 kilometres from cyclone-affected north Queensland has raised almost $3,000 for a Mackay school to replace its water-damaged library books.

Maverick Garaicoa was watching news reports of the impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie as it approached in March from his home in Redcliffe, north of Brisbane.

The year six student at Clontarf Beach State School said he wanted to help fellow students who were struggling in the wake of the cyclone.

A young boy in a radio studio behind a microphone.
Maverick visited students in Mackay this week to hand over the new books.

ABC Tropical North: Sophie Meixner

"I reckon it would be hard for them to be in that situation and I'd be really scared because they're probably worried sick about their school, or their family members. So I just wanted to help."

Through a school leadership program he connected with kids' crowdfunding website School Aid and decided he would start a campaign.

Focus on reading

School Aid provided a list of cyclone-affected schools and Maverick chose Mackay Central State School based on its relatively small student population, hoping the donation would go further.

"That felt like it made me feel so happy that they're recognising me."

With an initial funding target of $1,000 the campaign raised over $1,400 in a few weeks, which was then matched by bookseller Dymocks' Children's Charities to a total of over $2,800.

Children at the Mackay school chose the new books themselves and on Monday Maverick visited students to hand over the supplies.

Three people smile at the camera in a radio studio.
Sean Gordon from School Aid, Maverick Garaicoa, and Gary Minford from Dymock's Children's Charities.

ABC Tropical North: Sophie Meixner

The founder of School Aid, Sean Gordon, said as a former school principal he wanted children to drive their own change in society.

"Our aim is to have our children develop a sense of hope and optimism and be resilient, and also demonstrate entrepreneurial skills.

"(When) they run a campaign online, they reach out to the causes that they care about."

Maverick's father Dave Garaicoa said watching his son's determination "melts you instantly".

"You could never imagine that for a thousand years as a parent," he said.

"You're always encouraging your children to do the best they can, and you stick by them.

"Over a long period of time and patience they managed it — between School Aid and Maverick's determination — to get going with it, to come up with that money.

"Here we are now, a few months on, handing over some well-deserved material to help a school get back on track."