We recently caught up with Lindsay Dickhout, the founder of The Happiness Project, a local organization that supports underserved children in Orange County, California, by providing needed goods and services. HempLand USA has been a proud supporter of The Happiness Project since 2014, and we were thrilled when Lindsay sat down with us for an interview to talk about the mission of The Happiness Project and the inspiring initiatives they take to serve our community’s most vulnerable citizens.
What is the mission of The Happiness Project?
Lindsay Dickhout: The Happiness Project’s Mission is to spread love and happiness to children in need by providing the life essentials they desperately need and deserve.
We are starting right in our own backyard in Orange County, CA. With over 10,000 homeless and hungry children, we could not wait another day to start informing our neighbors and raising money to help change this.
Our goal is to improve the lives of these children in need by raising money and gathering gifts that will allow them to live a healthy life, be able to attend school, never go unfed, and to have a bright future with many opportunities.
What is your role at the organization? How did you become involved?
LD: I am the Executive Director of The Happiness Project, an organization that assists children in need in Orange County. Since 2002, I have been volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens. Realizing that there was a gap in what some shelters were able to provide and what children needed, I started The Happiness Project in 2007.
What was achieved in 2019?
LD: In 2019, The Happiness Project successfully handed over 100 backpacks from our backpack initiative program to children in various shelters from community donations. The backpack initiative gave children the confidence they needed to have all new supplies and backpacks to start off the new school year the way they deserve.
The Happiness Project also held its 13th Annual Sharing The Spirit Holiday Party, in collaboration with The Festival of Children at South Coast Plaza. Over 600 children were paired with enthused community volunteers to guide them through the party and visit over 50 stations that ultimately bought so much joy and happiness to the attending children. Through donations and support from the community, The Happiness Project was able to give every attending child a bag filled with gifts!
Can you tell us more about the recent holiday event?
LD: Every year around the holidays, The Happiness Project and The Festival of Children collaborate to throw a huge party after the South Coast Plaza closes to provide less fortunate children the experience to truly enjoy themselves without any worries. The children arrive at the event on buses we provide for them and are immediately greeted and cheered upon as they walk in and get paired with one of our volunteer elves!
This year we had over 50 stations set-up with LEGO building, face painting, cookie decorating, frame decorating, sand ornaments, carnival games, friendship bracelet making, tattoo station, wreath craft, balloon animals, henna tattoos, bead crafts, sports booths, photo booths, hair styling by Paul Mitchell Schools, nail painting, holiday card making… along with lots of yummy food and treats, just to name a few! The Plaza turns into this truly unique experience that feels like a dream! All you see is children smiling, dancing with new friends, taking pictures, and really just having a blast with no worries! The carousel is open for the children to enjoy as well as the opportunity to get their traditional picture with Santa if they wish.
Before the children leave, each of them is given a bag filled with gifts that come from all of the donations and support of our generous community! Overall it's an amazing experience for the community and volunteers to be apart of, and most importantly, it helps children ring in the holidays with joy!
What is The Happiness Project hoping to achieve in 2020?
LD: Our main focus for 2020 is to continue supporting underprivileged children in Orange County and to spread our mission in hopes that we can provide more children and families who need the extra assistance. The Happiness Project’s full-time team is eager to begin new programs that cater to the needs of children and families who want more assistance throughout the year and also provide them the opportunity to experience more fulfilling interactions with the community.
How does one get involved with The Happiness Project?
LD: The Happiness Project welcomes anyone who is willing to volunteer their time and spread our mission! While my team helps to operate and assist me with all of our planning, organization, and communication, we do love the extra assistance throughout the year when we announce programs such as the backpack initiative! You can get all of these updates on our social media @thehappinessprojectoc or by visiting our website www.helpockids.org.
Our Sharing The Holiday Spirit event registration goes live on our website mid-October - This fills up SOOO fast! It's so amazing how many people are willing to get involved! It truly brings meaning to the holidays!
Anyone who is willing to devote their time, make a donation, or spread our mission is so appreciated! You can make a donation through our website link: http://helpockids.org/how-you-can-help.html or send a check to The Happiness Project located at 16692 Burke Lane Huntington Beach, CA 92647. For any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A special “thank you” to Lindsay and The Happiness Project for sitting down with us and inspiring us to give back to our community and help spread the joy!