Helping hands give schoolies a friend

AS THOUSANDS of teenagers descended on the Gold Coast to start their schoolies celebrations on Saturday, so too did an army of volunteers determined to help keep them safe.

Almost 250 support service team volunteers patrolled the streets giving directions, safety advice and offering a general helping hand to school leavers.

The chief executive of Crime Stoppers Queensland, Trevor O'Hara, said their role was vital to keeping as many teenagers as safe as possible.

''Our role is not to pass judgment but to try and be their best friends,'' Mr O'Hara said. ''We're not the police, we're not security guards or their mums and dads. We're there to give them some tips and try to keep them as safe as possible.''

Volunteers walk the streets of Surfers Paradise in teams of four providing information, walk-home services, a friendly smile and wise advice to school leavers.

Support team volunteer Jeannie Ward, 70, who was on patrol on Saturday night said it was a rewarding way to give back to the community.

''If anyone's sick, or needs a friend or even just some directions, we help them out,'' Ms Ward said. ''I remind them to phone their mum and I'll give them a hug if they need it.''

Also on patrol on the coast on Saturday was Don Bullock, 74, who is volunteering for his 11th year at schoolies. Mr O'Hara said the support team's main message through the week was for teenagers to stick with their mates.

The story Helping hands give schoolies a friend first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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