South Auckland tertiary students are reaching out to help a stranger struck by tragedy.
Hospitality and cookery students at New Zealand Management Academies' (NZMA) Otahuhu campus raised $1000 at a lunch for Veronica Grondona.
The Hamilton kindergarten school teacher's 68-year-old mother and brother, 35, were among the almost 300 people killed in the earthquake that struck Italy on August 24.
When the NZMA students read about Grondona's loss on Stuff.co.nz they were motivated to help.
The money they've raised has been donated to a Givealittle fundraising page set up to support her while she recovers from the tragedy.
NZMA hospitality tutor Domenica Bavaro? says Grondona's situation "deeply touched" her and her students.
"Her situation broke my heart," she says. "We thought 'let's do something and we'll do something cool'.
"We'll get some guests and stakeholders. Most of the guests are also students who don't have an income so we tried to get the tutors involved. The more the merrier."
Fifty students spent a month planning the canape lunch and sold tickets for $15.
They were in charge of the front-of-house service as well as the preparation and break-down afterward.
Their skills were assessed by their tutors as part of the function segment of their course.
The fundraiser was supported by well known members of Auckland's Italian community.
Helping to make the lunch a success were chefs Gaetano Spinosa? and Flavia Nascimento?, cheesemaker Massimiliano De Caro and Peroni beer ambassador Admir Mullaaliu.
Dr Bernadette Luciano, Honorary Consul at the Italian Consulate in Auckland, was guest speaker at the lunch.
She says the students' efforts are a "testament to humanistic spirit".
"In moments of tragedy people come together from opposite sides of the world."
Luciano says Italy and New Zealand have numerous similarities, including both being "seismic" countries.
"It [Italy] has to face these devastating events that kill people and destroy houses and lives. There is still a lot of suffering and trauma.
"The aftershocks continue and it's not a happy situation but what you [the students] are doing is people helping each other."