[INTERVIEW] Caeden and Keilah Roberts, 'I’m young, I can’t help people properly, but I can help this way'

Salvo volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, and Caeden (11) and Keilah (10) Roberts are no exception. These hardworking kids have raised a significant amount of money for Salvo homelessness programs through their collecting outside Etihad stadium in Melbourne. We speak to these legends about why they love the Salvos.

When did you begin collecting at the footy and how did you get the idea to start there?
Keilah: Last year towards the end of the season, Mum’s work (The Salvation Army’s 614 program) said there were some spots available. We took them and went collecting. I really liked it. I went back at Christmas-time to help collect too. 

Why do you like collecting for the Salvos?
Caeden: Because you can help people who are stressed about not getting enough bread, or clean and dry clothes.

Keilah: We meet lots of new people, other kids and grown-ups too. You can dress up sometimes—at the footy we wear different team beanies. I’m young, I can’t help people properly, but I can help this way. 

How do people react when you tell them what you are fundraising for?
Caeden: People tell me that I’m doing a good job and that I should be proud. I am proud. 

Keilah: People like donating to the Salvos. Some people like finding me each week to give me their donation; they think I’m lucky. One man saves all his five-cent coins in his piggy bank and comes to find me before the game!

Are people surprised by the fact that you’re kids? 
Caeden: I think they’re happy to see kids collecting. We get more money when we stand in the rain! If we stand together, people will often give us a coin each too. 

Keilah: A little bit surprised. Lots stop and come back and tell me that I’m doing a good thing. 

How much money have you raised since you started?
Keilah: Not sure; we give it to Sandra and she uses the money to buy things the Salvos need. I know last year we helped get a washing machine and dryer. I’m just out there doing my thing, meeting new people and saying hello. 

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you while you’re collecting?
Caeden: Mum makes me stand near food vans while I collect. I’m happy to meet new people but, man, that food van smell is so good. I’m still waiting for the souvlaki Mum keeps promising me. 

Keilah: We got a camel ride around the MCG with our collection bibs on. That was pretty fun. And the police and MCG security people are pretty funny. They always say hello and keep an eye on us and make lots of jokes. 

How did you join the Salvos and what are your favourite things about it?
Keilah: Mum and Dad have worked with them forever so I just went with them. I like that I get to meet new people, have fun, do my bit, help others, have a laugh and become more confident in everything I do. 

What does knowing God mean to you?
Caeden: He’s watching us, believing in me. It makes me feel happy and safe.