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My journey to “Hope House”: A community helping create a home away from home

I’m extremely fortunate to be the Community Angel for because part of my job is being able to help others in our community. Recently I was presented with an opportunity that really proved to me what I always knew to be true:  that people, when given the chance, really just want to help give back to their community and pay it forward.

The start line

A few months ago, I was contacted by the Beacon of Hope House Project which was founded through the Salvation Army in Victoria. This organization provides a safe haven for at-risk male youth (ages 13-18) seeking individualized and comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment. They had recently moved into a new house and were wondering if would be able to help with donations from our site.

I immediately jumped on the opportunity to help a project that would be able to benefit so many youth in our community.  I asked the organizer Keltie to put together a wish list of everything they needed. It ended up being a little bit longer than I anticipated and I suddenly became nervous that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill it with my limited budget. But my gut told me that once our community found out about this project and who it was benefiting, that they would help me make this goal attainable. And boy was I right!!

My journey

I began scouring looking for items on this wish list. Within a couple hours, I managed to find several items either for sale or free and started contacting the sellers. I decided I would mention who I was and where the items were going to and thankfully I did. Almost every person who I contacted responded that they would gladly sell or hold the item for me as they were happy to help out such a great cause. Some people discounted their prices while others actually went above and beyond to make this project a success. Here are a few stand out examples:

  • Lori posted some soccer equipment for free on the site and so I arranged to pick this up from her. When I got to her home, she told me she was spring cleaning and had managed to find some brand new beach items she’d be happy to donate as well. She has teenage boys of her own so this project really resonated with her.
  • Sara posted a free television and stand on Not only did her and her boyfriend help me load it into my truck (it weighed a ton!) but they also offered their time if we needed their help for any future community angel projects.
  • The Rotary Club advertised they were having a garage sale on our site so I decided to pop down to see what they had on the wish list. I met this wonderful volunteer named Larry and showed him my list explaining what I was involved in. He quickly started running around the gymnasium grabbing items and starting a pile for me. Within minutes, he had found a large portion of my list and even gave me an amazing deal for all of it. I left with a huge smile on my face, not only because I found such amazing items but also because the money I paid for the items would be used towards another great charity. Love it when you can pay it forward twice!
  • But my favorite part of the journey was meeting Tyler, a local 14-year-old boy who was selling a skim board on our site. I emailed him some questions about it as I’m a total novice when it comes to this sport and explained who the skim board was going to. Tyler emailed back quickly asking if there were any other sports items we were looking for. I rattled off the different sports items assuming he may have other items for sale. Instead, he replied that he would go through his garage and try to find other items to donate to Hope House. When I arrived at his house, he had a pile of items in the middle of the garage floor including two baseball gloves, three baseballs, one soccer ball, one basketball, a brand new snorkeling kit and, of course, the skim board. It floored me how generous this young man was and that this generosity was helping other kids his age.

The final leg

After combing for items and reaching out to the community for two months, I’m happy to report that I managed to find almost every single item on the wish list for Hope House (still looking for a bongo drum and a ukulele so if you happen to have one sitting around in your house, let me know!).

We arranged a moving van and dropped everything off to the Salvation Army downtown, shocking the organizers with the amount of donations we had. They were overwhelmed with what we managed to find for them and before you knew it, we were all shedding tears of joy over how much these things would mean to the boys at Hope House. As Keltie eloquently put it, “these items will help turn a house into a home for the young men living there.”

Finish line

I’ve been lucky to be able to help many people in our community but this project will always hold a special place in my heart as it affirmed my faith in human kindness and how people will jump at the opportunity to help others when simply given the chance. Thank you to everyone in Victoria who helped make this donation and project a huge success! It was a journey I will never forget.

For more information on the Beacon of Hope House and details about the items donated, please click here.


Community Coordinator at, blogger, social media junkie, proud mama, fabulously frugal, proud to be from our beautiful city!

4 Responses to “My journey to “Hope House”: A community helping create a home away from home”

Judy Russell

This really touched my heart. Thanks for all of the good work you are doing, Carly. It makes me proud!! xxx


    Carly Russell-Huntley

    Thanks so much mom! xo

Sylvia Ross

What a wonderful story, Carly! And what wonderful work you are doing! I have the privilege of working for The Salvation Army in the area of fundraising, and it always touches my heart to see how financial donations are put to good use. To see changed lives is truly the most rewarding job! May you be blessed for all the hours and hours you have spent in helping these young men.!


    Carly Russell-Huntley

    Thanks so much Sylvia for your kind and inspiring words! It was such a wonderful experience and I’ve been hearing wonderful feedback from Hope House on how much the boys are enjoying everything.

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