The parents of homeless kids are likely more concerned with finding housing for their families than they are with throwing birthday parties, which means sadly, many children miss out on the celebrations that many of us take for granted. That’s why high school sophomore Lia Haile decided to launch her own nonprofit, the Hopeful Hearts Club, to remedy this problem.
Lia was only 9 when she visited a homeless shelter in her hometown of Manitowoc, Wisconsin to donate some items. Sadly, a little boy at the shelter believed the items were presents for his birthday, which is exactly what inspired Lia to start the nonprofit at such a young age.
“The idea of doing birthday parties at Hope House was already forming in her mind on the car ride home,” Lia’s mother, Tania, told MSN.
While Lia and her mom brought a cake, some balloons, and a small gift back to the boy at the shelter for his birthday, it wasn’t enough.
Lia wanted to help even more kids, so she launched the Hopeful Hearts Club with two friends. Together, they throw birthday parties that provide a cake, decorations, and even a gift to the children and their families for free.
The Hopeful Hearts Club has grown to have over 1,000 members, some of which come from all over the country and even as far away as Italy and Australia. These members donate whatever they can to the organization, be it their time, money, or other skills.
However, Lia Haille isn’t just stopping at throwing birthday parties. The Hopeful Hearts Club also hosts holiday meals, collection drives, summer picnics, and other parties for holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day. This year, she plans to put on a Thanksgiving dinner for families in need.
Lia is now a sophomore at Lincoln High School and has received some well-earned recognition for her hard work.
She was awarded $10,000 as part of “The Future of Good” program, which brought her to New York and even allowed her to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, she’s appeared on The Rachael Ray Show and was featured in PEOPLE magazine.
But that’s not all. Lia Haile co-founded another nonprofit service called “Backback Buddies” in 2017, which provides backpacks full of supplies like soap, shampoos, toothbrushes, toys, and books every time a foster child goes to a new home.
She also launched a summer school program in 2019 for kids who live at Hope House, her local homeless shelter, so that kids can get their education even if they don’t have transportation to get to local schools.
While Lia’s mom sometimes has to remind her daughter to take care of herself as well as others, Lia insists she just wants to help those less fortunate than herself in any way she can.
“If you see a need, try to fill it,” Lia said. “Even if it’s just a kid who doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch, go sit with them. If you see someone who maybe is having a bad day, go and talk to them or offer them a smile. It’s the little things like that.”