As a part of Shiftgig's charitable contributions throughout the year, we donate Specialist hours to a charity that is special to our employees. This year, we were honored to support The Holiday Heroes at their annual gala themed, “Heroes of the Night.”
Holiday Heroes is a Chicago-based organization that partners with hospitals, businesses, celebrities, and others to give children who are hospitalized due to a critical or chronic illness a deserved dose of fun. They offer kids, their families, and caregivers a chance to forget about illnesses and medical procedures by creating an experience that transports them to a joyous and hopeful place.
To learn more about the organization and success of their annual gala, we sat down with Bridgette Ferraro, Executive Director of Holiday Heroes, to ask her a few questions.
What inspired the start of the Holiday Heroes organization?
The organization was started by two sisters wanted to spread positivity to children's hospitals after receiving treatment for a chronic illness.
How has Holiday Heroes grown as an organization over the years?
In the beginning, the sisters started out delivering presents, and bringing in celebrities around the holidays. From there, it's really grown and developed in the last few years. In 2009, the organization became incorporated as a charity and the working board took over. We were initially doing about nine parties a year, then grew that number to 12. By 2016, we were doing about 24 parties a year with about 10 partnering hospitals. This year, we grew the number of hospitals we partner with to 13 and restructured our program so that we can offer one party theme for every month of the year, and each hospital gets four parties a year.
Tell us more the parties that Holiday Heroes throws.
There are four components to every party. The first is decoration and theme, the second is food. If the hospitals allow us, we make sure there are cookies, brownies, cakes, and other goodies because what kind of party for kids would it be without desserts!
The third component is gifts, which is one way that we’ve been able to double our program. At two of the parties we throw for a partnering hospital per year, we give a $100 gift card to up to 40 kids. For the other two parties with this hospital, we partner with other organizations to host toy drives to deliver toys insteading of handing out gift cards. This helps us keep costs down so we can keep having more parties.
And then the last component of our parties is what we call the “H Factor” or “Hero Factor.” This is something special that we do that includes an actor or group who come in for a skit, or a live musician, or costumed super heroes — just something special for the kids to enjoy.
Each year Holiday Heroes hosts an annual gala. What is the goal with this event?
The goal of the gala is to bring on new hospitals, and raise funds. This year, we raised more than $170,000, which is the most that the organization has ever done at our annual gala. With the gala being such a success, our next goal is looking at going regional by adding Indianapolis and Milwaukee.
What are some of the other events that Holiday Heroes hosts throughout the year?
The annual gala is our biggest fundraiser of the year. It’s the only gala that we do however our associate board usually plans a fundraiser as well. This year, they are planning a 90s themed Halloween party in October which will be another significant fundraiser for Holiday Heroes. We also have a new board this year — our junior board — which is made up of high school Juniors. They will be throwing their first 5K race as a fundraiser for the organization.
The final event we do is around “Giving Tuesday,” one of the biggest donation days of the year. We ask friends of the organization to host an event — whether it's a wine tasting or a dinner party — where they invite their friends and family to attend, and we give a small presentation on Holiday Heroes asking for a donation.
How can people get involved in Holiday Heroes?
If people would like to volunteer, we offer groups of 10-20 people to come in for what we call a craft party. During the craft party, the group will put together examples of the crafts that the kids can do at parties, as well as put together craft kit bags that can be delivered room to room. We also have a card station set-up during this craft party where the volunteers can write get well soon cards to be handed out to the kids during the hospital parties.
Another easy way to get involved is by donating a recurring $25 per month donation. This $25 will give one kid a craft kit, and themselves and their entire family a meal during a Holiday Heroes party.
If you would like to learn more about this donation opportunity, visit: https://holidayheroes.networkforgood.com/.
To learn more and get involved with the Holiday Heroes organization click here.