“On my family holiday to America in 2014, I noticed that everywhere we went there were a lot of homeless people,” said a then 8-year-old Hayden, co-founder of Hayden’s Helping Hands. “It didn’t seem right to me and I’d had enough. It stuck in my mind and I couldn’t get the thought away.
“I told mum that I wanted to do something about it. She said, ‘We have homeless in Melbourne too.’ My idea started to take shape. I decided something needed to be done about the situation. I spoke to mum and dad about it a few times and I told them I wanted to start a charity.”
Reaching out to homeless people
Hayden’s Helping Hands was established in 2015 by 8-year-old Hayden, his younger sister Stephanie, and their parents Paula and Michael to distribute food and supplies to people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage in Melbourne via a network of young volunteers.
Food parcels, toiletries, clothing and other essential items are distributed fortnightly to people in Banyule, Nillumbik, Hume, Darebin, Manningham, Yarra, and Whittlesea. The majority of non-perishable food items and goods are donated by the community.
Yet the charity was facing a serious challenge. Capacity was limited by the size of its facilities: a garage and storage cage. The family was forced to turn away donations of food and other supplies because there was nowhere to put them. There were also plenty of offers from schools, corporates and community groups to volunteer, but they didn’t have the space to accept.
New premises and growth
The charity was awarded a Community Grant to lease new premises. Since then they have been expanding services rapidly.
“The grant has given us and our youth volunteers a greater ability to help the homeless and families in need in the local area,” says Paula. “Since receiving the grant we have leased an office facility for one year and have moved our goods from various storage locations to the office. This has taken us some time as we had to set ourselves up in an organised and categorised way to make it easy to find what we need.
“We now have one location where we can go to organise all our relief that is not impacted by weather conditions and not restricted to two to three people on site at a time. This means that when someone asks for help, we can locate the goods within minutes, as opposed to the hours it would previously have taken.”
“Our new office space has enabled our volunteers to come together to help with the preparation of weekly food packages, and sorting of goods for distribution during outreaches. As a result, the amount of support reaching the needy has significantly grown, as has our volunteer participation.
“I have been surprised how much new energy and motivation our volunteers have brought to our new premises. They are keener to help package food, sort clothes, and most of all distribute the goods to those in need. That is the impact and why we can now help so many more people with your support.”
Thanks from the community
“I am so appreciative of the help from Hayden’s Helping Hands, over time they have helped us out so much, the Christmas before last if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have had anything special on Christmas Day, they really are amazing. Recently we have struck hard times as our dog has needed veterinary care and HHH helped us out once again, if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have had food. I really don’t know how to thank them.”
“I was hearing multiple stories about people in our Nillumbik community doing it very tough and having very little money to buy food for themselves and their families. I have one particular friend, a single mum of two children aged 9 and 10, who set up a beauty business just before COVID hit. Her business was shut multiple times with very little financial support. I reached out to Hayden’s Helping Hands… it was arranged that I would collect the food and drop off to her house. When I arrived to collect the food, I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of this charity. They put six full grocery bags of food into my car and a grocery voucher for perishable items. I then drove to this friend’s house and as I helped her carry the items to her kitchen, she said that it was the most food she’d had in her house all year.”
About the Community Grants Program
Every year the Sisters of Charity Foundation provides grants of up to $15,000 to small not-for-profits across Australia, like Hayden’s Helping Hands, that use clever ways to fight poverty, loneliness, suffering and oppression. We rely on the generosity of our supporters to fund our Community Grants Program.
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