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Doing Something to Make a Difference

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider that everybody has responsibilities.

Preparation and materials

  • the words ‘They ought to do something’ with the ‘They’ clearly crossed out and the words I/We replacing them
  • five readers for Section 2 below: Narrator, Old Man, Young Man, Mouse 1, Mouse 2


1. Ask the pupils if they have ever been in a situation where they know that they should have taken some form of action but failed to do so.

You may wish to listen to a range of answers.

2. Tell the following stories.

Story One (Leader, Narrator, Old Man, Young Man)

Leader: Dr Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, tells this story.

Narrator: An old man was walking along the seashore at dawn. Ahead of him he noticed a young man who was stooping down and picking up starfish from the beach, where they had been stranded by the receding tide, and throwing them back into the water.

Old Man: Why are you doing that?

Young Man: If I don't, they will be stranded, and the heat of the sun will kill them.

Old Man: But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish. What difference does it make?

Narrator: The young man stooped, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea.

Young Man: Well, it makes a difference to that one.

Pause to give the pupils time to think about the meaning of the story.

Story Two (Narrator, Mouse 1, Mouse 2)

Narrator: This is a Russian folk story.
Two mice were sitting watching the snow fall and settle on the branch of a tree.

Mouse 1: How much does a snowflake weigh?

Mouse 2: A little less than nothing.

Narrator: They continued to watch the snow falling until eventually the snowflakes lessened and stopped. A final snowflake fell on to the branch of the tree. The branch creaked, snapped and fell to the ground.

Mouse 1: So a little less than nothing can make a big difference!

Narrator: The lessons are clear:
- do what you can to help
- little things can make a big difference

Time for reflection

What could you do to help? Remember, every little thing makes a big difference.

This section needs to be specific to the school. Suggestions could be:
- give a small contribution to the next charity collection
- organize a tutor group 'sale' to raise funds for a chosen charity
- write a letter to someone who can make a difference to a situation, such as your local MP or councillor
- listen to someone who has a problem
- talk to someone who is lonely
- pray

Lord, you have made us all to be different and given us to each other for friendship and support, for sharing and enjoyment.
May we always value each other and always be looking for opportunities to improve the lives of those around us.


'When I needed a neighbour, were you there?' (Hymns Ancient and Modern)

Publication date: October 2022   (Vol.24 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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