'Tis the season of giving!
This truly is the most wonderful time of the year as Christmas will be here in the less than a month and then it's award season. It's the perfect time to do some good and what better way to that than lending a hand (or donation) to Friends With Hearts. They are not a registered charity but a community of friends working in conjunction with Good Shepard in Hamilton to restore the magic of Christmas for families in need. They have groups in Hamilton, ON, Vancouver,BC, Cornwall, ON, New York City (shoutout to my cousin Julia), and Niagara, ON.
I caught up with Hamilton's Group Leader, Jay Perry. Check out our Q&A below:
What have you learned about yourself and the community since starting Friends With Hearts?
Well, first off, the community? Unbelievable! To think that Friends With Hearts started with a simple tweet seeing if nine friends would want to donate $25 with me to sponsor a family, to where it has grown today, blows my mind! Without the amazing support of everyone involved, it would never have grown to this level. Our main goal is to give kids a Christmas, but I love that we can do this as a team. That we can join forces and come together as friends to help out those in need. Everyday I grow more and more impressed with the individuals who want to give up their time so those kids can experience the magic of Christmas morning. That same morning we all got to be a part of growing up.
As for what did I learn about myself. That’s easy. I really had no idea how much joy Friends With Hearts would bring my way. It’s the work I am most proud of, but at the same time it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done, most time consuming, yet I never think twice about giving up my “paid work” in the month of November to focus solely on this project. It’s what keeps me going, and I’m sometimes still so in shock at the response from the incredible community, not only in my hometown, but across Canada and now spread into New York City. A simple idea that started in Hamilton, to now having FWH groups in Vancouver, Niagara, Cornwall and New York City is something I never imagined was even possible. Thank you to the amazing people who have helped grow this idea.
Can anyone get involved?
100%! We invite everyone to join our team and there’s so many ways to do that. The obvious is donating money but I continually get the question; “I would love to help out but I don’t have any money to give right now. Is there something else I can do?” Money is what allows us to purchase the gifts for the kids, but to me, time is so much more valuable than money. We are always looking for more volunteers to come help us wrap all the gifts at our wrapping event and we are always so grateful when people share our social media posts. Whether someone donates $1 or $1000, or whether someone shares a post once or a hundred times, to me I consider each and every person a part of our team, a friend, and the reason why we can help so many kids every year.
Why is it important to give back?
I’ll answer this from a personal perspective. I wasn’t born into a wealthy family, but I also wasn’t born into a financially poor family either. I grew up in a middle class suburban neighbourhood. I always had food. And I always had shelter. Basically, I was lucky and so grateful to be born into the family I was. Unfortunately some kids aren’t as lucky and I feel some sort of responsibility to give back. Especially to kids who have no control on changing their situation. I also think it keeps me grounded and helps me focus on more important issues we face today. Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that if you are in a position to help out someone in need, regardless of circumstance, you should always do what you can. The world would be such a difference place if we all helped just one person in our lifetime.
For more information and to donate, click here.