London Outreach – Claire Robbins

JoyJ had it’s first outreach in London! Special thanks to 16 year old Claire Robbins for making this possible, see her story below.

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Claire Robbins

In my school, we had to brainstorm and finish a personal project. My decision was to bring JoyJ to London through an outreach with my school. I chose JoyJ because I volunteered for an outreach in Atlanta. I learned the importance of taking action for the vulnerable in our community and I wanted to share that experience.  For JoyJ’s first international outreach, I set several goals and milestones: 1) a timebound target date of February 26th for the outreach, 2)£400 for fundraising, 3) contents for 30 bags, 4) organizing 10 volunteers.

Along the way, I hit many milestones. I started off with an idea. I talked about the project everywhere.  Probably the most touching thing I experienced was a random event. I was in an Uber car on my way to see a musical with my mom. We were brainstorming ways to fundraise for the outreach. Once we made it to the theatre and before we exited the car, the Uber driver said to me “If I was homeless, then I would really appreciate what you were doing. Here are two pounds to start you off.” This was the point where I knew I needed to spring into action.

I met with my supervisor at least once, sometimes twice a week. We would discuss the next stages of my project. I talked about presenting a self made presentation to the students and faculty of Halcyon during the morning announcements. To make this happen, I had to receive permission from the headmaster. I asked for extra resources from the CFO of the charity and he provided me with the website ( to help me create a presentation to get people involved. Then, I met with the headmaster and I told him my plans and explained the message of JoyJ. He was interested and said he needed to talk to the board first. I was told that the board only meets once in awhile and I was lucky they were meeting next week. My supervisor let me know that I could present at the next assembly. I met with my supervisor to practice the presentation. He gave me notes on how I could improve. I gave my presentation and it went well. After I gave the presentation, I sent a survey out to the students. The survey recorded information on who wanted to help and any remaining questions you may have. The presentation was successful and I had a majority of people who wanted to help. I answered any remaining questions through emailing people individually. I set up a meeting for the next Tuesday. I chose the time so people could talk to their parents about being involved over the weekend. After the meeting, I had a clear amount of people who wanted to help.

I scheduled a date (February 26th) and began to work. My next step was funds. I created a page on Crowdfunder detailing my target amount of money and information about JoyJ. To draw attention, I shared this to my facebook. I received some donations through sharing my project. Then I turned to sharing my funding page with friends and family. I received generous donations from my relatives. I also sent an email to the lady in charge of the school’s weekly newsletter. She put my message into the newsletter and I received an outpouring of donations. I exceeded my original goal of 400 pounds and received a final amount of 670 pounds.

By the time my fundraiser ended, it was time to start shopping. I went through the websites of four popular stores in the area looking for the cheapest prices to use for the outreach. I made a table to see a comparison of prices. I found that Sainsburys was the best option for food and Primark was the best option for hats, socks, and gloves. Brian Ender sent me 30 bags with the logo of the charity on it. The next item I needed for the bags was 10 pound gift cards to a place a homeless person could sit down and have a meal. I went to Pret and I got 30 gift cards. One of the most important things that goes into one of the bags is an information sheet. The information sheet should contain where the homeless person can go to find help (ie: homeless shelters, help centers and soup kitchens) After all of the contents were bought, I only ended up using 470 pounds worth of my funds. I am going to save the extra 200 pounds for the next outreach I’ll complete.

Once I ordered and put everything together, I had to wait until Friday for everything to arrive at school. I brought hats, socks, and gloves with me, as well as, the 30 Pret cards. The bags arrived at school on Thursday. My Sainsburys order came at around 10:00a.m. and I organized everything. I had a total of 14 volunteers help me pack bags and make sandwiches.

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My friend Antonia in particular said that, “Participating in Claire’s JoyJ Outreach was an amazing experience. It opened my eyes on how taking a few hours out of your day can make such an impact on the community around you.” I am so glad to have made such a large impact on my classmates and the needy in our community.

I’ve received calls and letters from volunteers and parents of volunteers expressing their appreciation for learning from and participating in such a successful outreach.