Scott Ferron loves to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycles and his fuzzy, bright red Muppet head helmet gets lots of attention.
“Everyone really notices where you are,” says the founder of Helmet Head Canada. “They turn, they smile. You see a grumpy person in a car and pull up next to them and just kind of nod your head and instant smiles, usually laughs.”
Ferron started Helmet Head Canada six years ago to collect toys for children in hospitals on Vancouver Island.
“I started it just because it needed to happen,” Ferron says. “I discovered that a lot of the toys that are donated usually go to a holding facility and end up on the Lower Mainland.”
Ferron wanted to make sure toys donated on the Island, stayed on the Island to brighten the spirits of local children. Last year, his dedicated crew of motorcycle friends were able to give toys to 400 sick kids at seven different facilities between Victoria and Campbell River.
“It’s amazing, of course!” says Helmet Head participant Jason Schultz. “There’s lots of people that are in need, lots of kids in the hospital, and lots of people that get overlooked.”
“I can’t say how important teddy bears are for helping kids feel better,” Ferron adds. “Just having something to cuddle goes a long way and when kids feel better, they start to heal faster and their morale—it just improves everything and it’s contagious.”
The grassroots effort gets bigger every year and the Helmet Head toy drive is no longer just a holiday fundraiser.
“It’s now expanded to a year-round event so we do two or three major campaigns every year, centring around the parades for extra visibility and awareness,” Ferron explains.
“There’s other places out there that might be bigger, but I think the passion that’s here involved and where it’s going to really matters,” Schultz adds.
For those that take part in the toy drives, giving back and making a difference is what it’s all about.
“Everyone should give back,” says Schultz. “That’s all it comes down to. I’ve been helped before, other people have been helped, if you’re in a position that can help people, do it.”
For Ferron, the joy he brings is the best gift of all.
“It brightens your soul and lifts your heart and makes your day to see a sad little kid in a room, eyes get brighter, they stand up, they come to the door as you’re pushing a giant hand cart brimming with toys,” he says.
Toys are being collected until Dec. 20 for Christmas.
Drop off locations include:
- Liquor Planet in Langford
- Barnes Harley in Langford
- Happy Campers Daycare in Metchosin
- Duncan Dodge
- Starbucks at Chapters in Nanaimo
- Tailwinds Orthotics in Courtenay
For more information, go to the Helmet Head Canada website.