VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – As Perry Como sings: “Oh, there is no place like home during the holidays.”
Unfortunately, not everyone has a home where they can celebrate the holiday.
“This brings awareness to Virginia Beach that there are hundreds of homeless children out there in middle school and high school alone,” said Diana Barrett of her Heart of Christmas Hope Project.
The Heart of Christmas Hope Project works with local organizations to collect Christmas gifts for homeless middle and high school children in Virginia Beach, one of which is the Kempsville PONY Baseball league.
“After learning about it, I thought it was a worthy cause,” said President Kempsville PONY Baseball Board John Shipp, who sent out emails to the league’s baseball families urging them to donate.
Last year, Kempsville PONY Baseball was its first season with the Heart of Christmas Hope Project, and the response was overwhelming. Shipp expected less attendance this year due to the pandemic. Instead, the response was a home run.
“I thought in this COVID environment that people would not be willing to give, especially to lose their jobs and stuff, and it has been the exact opposite,” Shipp said. “We doubled and even tripled what we got last year, and I was really overwhelmed by that.”
Barrett’s idea for the project came several years ago after meeting a homeless family.
“Child was a teenager, did not have a gift for Christmas, so decided to do something and find out who handled this kind of thing,” Barrett said.
After contacting the Virginia Beach school system, they put her in touch with a social worker. They then developed a plan for the school system to distribute the project’s donations to children in need.
“Homelessness is a number of things,” Barrett said. “Homelessness can be that a child lives in a hotel room, lives with a friend, there are students who live in cars and still go to school.”
“I challenge the other baseball leagues in our area to get involved in this,” Shipp said. “It’s such a worthy cause. The more people we can reach out to and make aware of this project, the more people we can help.”
To help the homeless to enjoy Christmas.