Any anecdote that involves ice cream must be a feel-good story, right? Indeed, this tale is no different; it involves Niki Delva and Roel van Steenvoort, two long-time supporters of Little Hearts from Belgium.
In 2010, Jo Offeciers, a friend of theirs who also happens to be Tony’s uncle and a Little Hearts board member since the very beginning, asked them if they would like to become regular sponsors. Making monthly contributions to the Little Hearts’ operating budget, they knew, would have a big impact on many children’s lives, so they accepted, and we have benefited from their generosity ever since then. Over the years, they also participated in other fundraising efforts organized by Team Belgium on behalf of Little Hearts, such as the annual garden party.
Last month, Niki and Roel travelled to Vietnam and Cambodia to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. On August 8th they were in Phnom Penh, so Jo asked Tony if they could use this opportunity to visit Little Hearts and meet the kids in person. (We are happy for our most committed donors and sponsors to visit the facility, but this has to be managed carefully in order to ensure the children’s safety and privacy.) Tony agreed, and Niki and Roel received a warm welcome from the Little Hearts staff and the children.
They visited the dormitories and the classrooms, the vegetable garden, the art gallery, the pond with the turtles and fish, the library and the kitchen. As they surveyed our campus and chatted with the children and the staff, they realized that everything they had learned about Little Hearts over the years was true. They were able to feel first-hand the cheerfulness, the high involvement and the positivity of this child-centered community, and Tony’s great commitment to improving the lives of young Cambodians.
They were so touched by the experience that once they had returned home, they decided to do something more for Little Hearts beyond their monthly donations. We have to roll up our sleeves, they said, because Little Hearts depends entirely on donations and the efforts of sponsors like us.
Last week a great opportunity to raise more funds presented itself. On Monday, September 3rd, the school year began in Belgium, including at the H. Pius X Institute in Antwerp, where Niki teaches. It was still very hot in the first week of school – how could the teachers make the start of school more bearable for all the students, ward off the heat, and also make a contribution to Little Hearts? The answer was… ice cream, of course!
Niki and her fellow teachers acted quickly. They made a poster announcing an ice cream sale and displayed it all over the school, then they advertised the event on Instagram and Smartschool, set up a stand in the playground, ordered lots of yummy ice cream, rounded up 15 willing older students and eight teachers to sell it, and whoosh, a fundraising event magically came to life!
The ice cream tasted delicious – over 640 helpings were sold in just over an hour. Everyone enjoyed it without any guilt, as it was for a good cause. The result was quite impressive for such a flash event: over 1,000 euros were raised for Little Hearts! These much-needed funds will go directly to Little Hearts’ general budget to pay for monthly expenses. Thank you, Niki and colleagues, for your thoughtful and speedy action!
If you, dear reader, are thinking of how you could contribute to Little Hearts, please be inspired by Niki’s ice cream event. It takes just a little bit of initiative and organization to set up a similar drive at your school, office or sports club, or in your neighbourhood. If you let everyone know what the funds are for, you will see how positively your co-workers or neighbours will react. People everywhere are willing and eager to contribute to good causes – they just need to be given the opportunity to do so, and to be rewarded with something fun or tasty or beautiful… like ice cream. The atmosphere during such a campaign is unique, the enthusiasm is contagious, the satisfaction that comes with it is lasting, and our gratitude will be immense.