Happiness advent calendars on sale to support Ballarat homeless

Festive: Jake Sbardella is selling more than 400 happiness advent calendars in the lead-up to Christmas to raise funds for Ballarat's homeless population.
Festive: Jake Sbardella is selling more than 400 happiness advent calendars in the lead-up to Christmas to raise funds for Ballarat's homeless population.

A twelve-year-old Buninyong boy is again using his creativity to raise funds for the region’s homeless. 

Jake Sbardella has started selling his happiness advent calendars chocked full of inspirational quotes in preparation for Christmas 2017.

The calendars raised more than $2800 for organisations supporting homeless people in Ballarat last year.

With the funds, he bought eight swags for the Backpack Bed for Homeless charity and made a donation to the Anglicare breakfast program. 

“The idea came one Christmas when I decided didn’t want an advent calendar with chocolates in it,” Jake said. “I asked my Mum to make a calendar with happiness quotes instead.”

Two festive designs featuring Pugsley the Pug and Felix the Fox are available on the Happiness Advent Calendar Facebook page, and will be sold at SpringFest on November 26.  

After sharing the simple idea with family and friends, Jake’s mum Emma Sbardella said there was high demand.

“So many people wanted them and then told their friends about it,” she said. 

“After he came up with the idea, we realised we could sell them and money raised could be donated.”

Jake originally wanted to volunteer at the soup bus, but after finding out he was too young, he channeled his altruism into the calendars. 

“I just do it because it’s fun and I know I’m helping out people in need, you feel good about yourself,” he said. 

“Even if you think you can’t really do anything, be creative and find a way.” 

Jake’s hard work was acknowledged at the 2017 Youth Awards, where he was the youngest person ever to receive the City of Ballarat Award (12-17 years). 

“I was extremely surprised,” Jake said. “There are some really amazing people that went up, it was good to see what everyone else was doing.”

The Youth Awards recognise the contribution of young people between 12 and 25 years old to the Ballarat community. 

Recipients at the 2017 ceremony include Giarn Carroll, Shane Parkinson, Tabitha Byron, Abbakr Ahmed, Veronica Rogers, James Prebble, Tayla Moody and Mitch Burgess.

Adult allies Kristy Hughes-Steenhuis and Mel Peters received awards for their support and encouragement of young people.  

The Western Bulldogs Leadership Program Care Drive 2017 received the Group Project Award.