Project HELLO began in 2009 when a group of amazing high school students decided to make a positive impact in their community by helping the homeless. Recognizing that the homeless usually rely on handouts, they wanted the homeless community to experience the joy of giving. Instead of giving them handouts, they gave them gifts that they could give away.
The project is simple yet powerful. Now in year 8, over 600 homeless people have participated in Project HELLO. HELLO stands for Helping Everyone Locate Loved Ones. Here’s how it works:
Elementary aged students make beautiful handmade Christmas cards or Mother’s Day cards.
Secondary aged high school students head to the streets with their teachers and invite the homeless to write messages of love in the cards and give them away to family or friends they have lost touch with.
The teenagers head back home and use social media to track down lost families. After heart warming phone calls where the messages are shared and addresses confirmed, the cards are slipped in the mail with a note about Project HELLO.
The cards include an invitation for families to write back to the students and share the impact the card has made.
In 8 years, over 600 homeless people have been re-connected with family or friends. Students have fundraised for two face to face reunions, helped many make phone calls and heard hundreds of stories of gratitude, love and strength – as family members rejoice – hearing for their long lost sons, daughters, cousins, brothers, sisters or parents.
Project HELLO is simple yet powerful. If you would like to start Project HELLO in your community, please contact Kristi Blakeway at kblakeway@sd42. ca