Jake Sbardella values happiness so much he wants to make sure everyone shares in it.
The big-hearted Buninyong student has sold Christmas happiness advent calendars for the past two years to raise money to support homeless programs around Ballarat, and to buy backpack beds for the homeless.
Now he’s branched out in to another festive season, selling Easter happiness advent calendars in a bid to raise his fundraising total over the years to $10,000.
“It all started when he was 10 when I asked if he wanted a Christmas advent calendar,” said mum Emma.
“He instead asked if I could make him a happiness advent calendar to remind him how I make him happy, and when friends heard about it they wanted one too.”
Ms Sbardella said Jake had always been concerned about homeless people, but being so young it was difficult for him to volunteer to help.
So, sensing a wider interest in his happiness advent calendar, he decided to sell them to raise money.
“I decided to create these little calendars because it made me happy and I thought if I could sell them to other people I could use the money.
“The fact that (the homeless) are less fortunate than us and some of them can’t help it, it just shouldn’t be like that and it makes me feel sad,” Jake said.
Since selling his first calendar, Jake has raised $6800 and has an ambitious target to reach $10,000 this year.
In his first year he donated $1960 to Anglicare’s breakfast program and bought eight backpack beds.
Last year he raised $4000 and bought a further eight backpack beds for St Vincent de Paul and donated $1580 to each of the Shower Bus and Soup Bus.
Jake was intrigued with the backpack beds and the difference they make to those sleeping rough.
“You go inside them and they heat up really fast because they trap the heat in. You can hook them up to something and make a little tent, they’re water proof and they look like a hiking backpack,” he said.
Jake carefully selects jokes and happy quotes to include in his professionally printed calendars designed by his mum, and created the characters of Pugsly the Pug, Felix the Fox, Carla the Cat and Rosie the Rabbit who feature on the calendars, which he sells at markets and on Facebook.
“I’ve been given the gift of a home and a loving and caring family,” Jake said.
“Some people in the world don’t really have that though, so it means a lot to me that the homeless people have somewhere to sleep.”
Backpack Beds for the Homeless founder Tony Clark commended Jake’s understanding of the crisis facing homeless people in Victoria.
“To have a young man have such a grasp on the extreme challenges facing the street sleeping homeless makes me incredibly proud and hopeful for young people of today,” he said.
Jake will be selling his calendars at the Buninyong Village Easter Twilight Market on Saturday March 24 from 4pm.