VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – As Perry Como sings, “Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays.”
Unfortunately, not everybody has a home where they can celebrate the holiday season.
“This is bringing awareness to Virginia Beach that there are homeless kids out there in middle school and high school alone that are in the hundreds,” Diana Barrett said about her Heart of Christmas Hope Project.
The Heart of Christmas Hope Project teams up with local organizations to collect Christmas presents for homeless middle and high school children in Virginia Beach, one of those organizations being the Kempsville PONY Baseball league.
“After I found out about it I thought this is a worthy cause,” said Kempsville PONY Baseball board president John Shipp, who sent out emails to the league’s baseball families, encouraging them to donate.
Last year was Kempsville PONY Baseball’s first season teaming up with the Heart of Christmas Hope Project and the response was overwhelming. Shipp expected less of a turnout this year because of the pandemic. Instead, the response was a home run.
“I thought in this COVID environment people wouldn’t really be willing to give, especially losing their jobs and stuff like that, and it’s been the exact opposite,” Shipp said. “We got double to even triple what we got last year and I was really overwhelmed by it.”
Barrett’s idea for the project came about several years ago after meeting a homeless family.
“Child was a teenager, didn’t have a gift for Christmas, so decided to do something and figure out who was handling these types of items,” Barrett said.
After reaching out to the Virginia Beach school system, they put her in contact 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 a child is living in a hotel room, living with a friend, there’s students living in cars and still attending school.”
“I challenge the other baseball leagues in our area to get involved with 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.”
Helping those without a home enjoy Christmas.