After completing her Masters in Social Work, Rikki Cooke (BBehavSc(Psych) ’14, MSW ’17) knew she wanted to do more for at-risk children and their families, so she quit her day job and launched Treasure Boxes, which now supports over 2,500 vulnerable kids every year.
Working in partnership with over 160 NGOs and government organisations, Treasure Boxes provides essential items that are vital to ensuring that health and wellbeing needs are being met for children aged 0-17 who have been impacted by domestic violence, homelessness, or extreme poverty.
This support alleviates the financial burden on parents or carers to provide the necessities, it allows new parents to give their babies a safe and healthy start to life, and it helps to ease the trauma of displacement for children.
“While I was completing both my degrees, I worked as an emergency carer and an emergency foster carer,” says Rikki.
“Most of these kids had stories that would terrify a grown adult, and yet they had no choice but to survive and do the best they could at the time and live with the scars to remind them of their history.”
“I knew I was always going to be in a role that involved children – whether it was in childcare, being a teacher or supporting kids in a psychosocial manner.”
Rikki’s commitment and dedication to improving the lives of our most vulnerable community members has seen Treasure Boxes double in size year after year. In the 2021-22 financial year, Treasure Boxes supported 2,466 babies, kids and teens from 1,333 families – sending out over 15,000 items.
“I’ve found that most people have a kind heart and a desire to support others in the community that are somehow disadvantaged but are at a loss as to how to go about it,” says Rikki.
Rikki is still extremely active in the day-to-day operations of Treasure Boxes, ensuring that families are receiving items that they absolutely need, while case workers ensure their clients are well supported.
“Within the next few years, I’m aiming to grow Treasure Boxes to extend its reach across South Australia and into the Northern Territory to reach the most remote communities and children that are currently living in devastating circumstances.”
Rikki Cooke was awarded a 2022 Early Career Alumni Award for significant commitment and dedication to improving the lives of vulnerable South Australians by establishing Treasure Boxes, a vital, practical and life-changing organisation.