Project HELLO aims to connect DTES residents with loved ones

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Writing Letters / Shutterstock

A grassroots organization called Project HELLO wants to connect Downtown Eastside residents with long lost family members this holiday season.

Since 2009, Dr. Charles Best Secondary School counsellor Kristi Blakeway has helped hundreds of homeless people reconnect with loved ones through handmade Christmas cards. Blakeway and her team of 50+ students and teachers approach people in the Downtown Eastside and ask if there’s anyone they’d like to contact for the holidays – they then work tirelessly to find them, no matter where they are.

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The team utilizes the internet, phone directories and even the community to track down the long lost families. And it works.

The first year alone they managed to reconnect 30 residents with family and friends around the world. They have since helped over 450 homeless people in the following years.

And now it’s a year-round project. Sadly, not every reconnection is successful, and there are still many people whose letters never get sent. On the Project HELLO website, there’s a full list of letters still waiting to be connected to loved ones.

Volunteers still work tirelessly to try and find the intended recipients of these letters.

If you want to help Project HELLO, there are a few ways you can do that:

  • Donate card making supplies
  • Donate postage
  • Help search for the people in their “still looking for” section of their website
  • Start a new chapter of Project HELLO in your neighbourhood
  • Above all else, treat homeless people with dignity and respect

Click here to get in touch with Project HELLO.

Image: Project Hello

Image: Project Hello

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Lauren Sundstrom Lauren is a Staff Writer and Projects Assistant at Vancity Buzz. She is a graduate of BCIT's Broadcast and Online Journalism program. She loves reporting on breaking news and lifestyle content. If you feel like you have a story that needs to be told, fire her a tweet.
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