WEEK 5 – THE 52 WEEK LOVE PROJECT
Welcome to Week 5 of The 52 Week Love Project. The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.
The project will showcase LOVE at it’s finest, share their stories – what they do and why they do it! It’s an opportunity for us to find out what inspires them and what keeps them going when challenges or self-doubt assail them.
MEET: Leah – Founder of Operation Sunshine WA .
‘WE MAKE CHILDREN HAPPY WHEN THEIR SKIES ARE GREY…’
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
It all began in 2014, I decided to finally act on my desire to donate some Christmas presents to children living in out-of-home care and contact a care organisation that I was already familiar with. They put me in touch with an organisation who provide group homes for children in care. Initially, I just intended to donate a few presents, but I decided to ask my Facebook contacts if they would like to get involved. This sparked a response I could never have predicted, and I ended up creating a page on Facebook purely to communicate with and organise donations from members of the wider community. My initial donation had increased to over 250 presents, which filled a box trailer and meant that I had to recruit people to help me with the delivery.
I decided then that this was something I wanted to do every year and expand to reach even more children in care. In March 2015, Operation Sunshine WA became an official Incorporation!
WHAT DO YOU DO?
‘Our main project is the provision of emergency care packs for children entering out-of-home care across Western Australia. These are children being placed in group homes, residential care, or foster care, and often come with few or no belongings of their own. Our emergency care packs, that we call Sunshine Packs, provide essential items to help get these children through the first 24 -48 hours in care before additional items can be purchased for them. Each pack is full of brand new items and gives the children a sense of ownership as well as alleviating the sense of dependency and isolation they experience.’
WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
‘My own personal experience within the care system. I have memories of feeling completely isolated and scared to be alone, particularly at night. I want to bring comfort to children going through the same as I did. I also have happy memories of my time in care, the little things that left lasting positive memories for me even into adulthood make me want to create the same positive impact for others.’
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?
‘I often feel like I’m not doing enough, and what I am doing isn’t effective enough. It gets hard sometimes when I feel that way but I just remind myself why I started and that helps me keep moving forward’.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS THAT WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
‘I think if people can identify a way in which they can make a positive impact they should go for it. No matter how small, don’t be put off by feelings that it isn’t worth it because it isn’t enough, it will be enough for someone. If you aren’t sure then consultation is key if you have an idea ask people in the industry if there is a need, and then run with it’.
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY?
‘If I was looking back on my life – would I be happy with my contribution’. I feel like I am validating my life and existence! What did you do? I have to do more!’
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
‘In addition to our Sunshine Packs, we run an annual Christmas Present Appeal in order to provide gifts to children in out-of-home care. We have provided Mother’s Day hampers to foster mums and mums living in women’s refuges and will soon be providing care packs to women and children escaping domestic violence.’
HOW CAN OTHER HELP?
Check out our website / Donate: here
Want to meet 52 game changers? ‘The 52 Week Love Project‘ can hit your inbox each week with a dose of inspiration. Sign Up: Here!