When twins Sheena and Sharna Trigg started primary school, they had to share their meagre supply of pencils and books or borrow from friends.
A teacher who noticed their single mother was struggling with schooling costs put her in touch with charity The Smith Family, which helps disadvantaged children get an education. More than a decade of support allowed the twins to immerse themselves in school and gave them confidence to tackle tertiary education.
Sharna is finishing her first year in archaeology at the University of WA and Sheena is doing science, specialising in forensic biology and toxicology, at Murdoch University. Grateful for the chances they have been given, the sisters, 18, will compere a fundraising event at Government House tomorrow night to celebrate The Smith Family's 90th birthday nationally and 11 years in WA.
They said the charity's support meant they could afford the uniform and boots when they were selected for the girls' soccer team at Swan View Senior High.
They were able to buy a trombone and a flute when they joined school music ensembles and buy leavers' jackets.
"It definitely opened doors for uni, because we knew they'd be there to help us out," Sharna said.
"They don't just do the financial side, they do support and advice as well," Sheena said.
The Smith Family WA manager Greg Ryan-Gadsden said the charity supported 3000 needy children in WA, but hoped to double its reach in the next five years. Tickets to the 90th birthday fundraiser are $65.
For details call 9265 5555.