Don red to share the love for charity

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HeartKids supporter Ryan Howden (10), of Invercargill with the HeartKids bear he was gifted by the charity when he was born.

WHILE life came to a halt for most of the country during the Covid-19 lockdown, heart surgeries for newborns did not.

With June being HeartKids awareness month, the charitable organisation will host an appeal on June 12 to raise funds for Southland families and their children born with heart conditions.

Southland treasurer Ismay Howden said this year’s approach to fundraising would be a little different from previous annual events, due to Covid-19.

Whether it was a bike ride from Milford Sound to Invercargill or a nine-hour, non-stop ride around Teretonga Park, the charity had always raised funds by getting out in the community, she said.

However, with the Government’s loosening on gathering restrictions, organisations were scrambling to have their events at the same time.

“We didn’t want to compete and it would be too difficult for everyone trying to fit it all in at once.”

Instead, this year, the HeartKids Wholehearted Crisis Appeal would invite schoolchildren to don their best red outfits on June 12.

“The kids and their families can make a donation to HeartKids to help support those who benefit from the service, not just when they’re born but for their lifetime.”

Mrs Howden ecame involved with the organisation 10 years ago when her son, Ryan was born with a heart condition.

“A year later I became the treasurer… It’s important to me to raise this money for HeartKids because I want other families and their children to receive the same support, if not better, than I did.”

Without receiving Government funding, the charity relied on donations and volunteers.

“We have over 150 families we support in Southland and the need is always there.

“During lockdown we had two babies in Starship Hospital having open heart surgery… Last year we had 10 babies from Southland within a space of two months.”

One of the special things about HeartKids was the continuous role it played in the lives of those who came into contact with it, she said.

“We have coffee groups so the families and kids make great friends through that.

“You can’t understand what it’s like if you haven’t been through it [having a child with a heart condition], so having people who do get it is really nice.”

Donations to HeartKids can be taken directly to ASB Bank or for more information, phone Ismay Howden on 027 419 0642.

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