In October last year, we received an email from a nine-year old boy named Archie. He told us,

“I really want to work with homeless people when I grow up. I only found out about homeless people and why people are homeless this year and it made me really sad. When I go to Adelaide, Mum lets me talk to homeless people near Rundle Mall and sometimes if I have some money, I give them some to buy something to eat. I hope that when I am 18, Orange Sky is still going so I can come and work with you.”

We’re lucky enough to receive a lot of messages from young people – like Archie – who just want to find a way to help. It’s one the best parts of working at a place like Orange Sky where big dreams and crazy ideas come to life.

For Archie, it all started on a trip to Adelaide with his Mum, Jayne.

“Arch noticed a homeless person for the first time. He asked lots of questions [and] we talked about the kinds of things that can lead to people being homeless, such as drug and alcohol abuse, loss of employment, domestic and family violence, mental health, and breakdowns of relationships.

Driving home a few hours later, Archie suddenly burst in to tears. When I asked what was wrong, he responded with ‘I just can’t believe someone’s family would turn their back on them, and they’d have nowhere to go.’

Over the next couple of months, there were often discussions about homeless people and what Arch could do to help. Every time we went to Adelaide, where we often had a treat for lunch, he would ask to forego his lunch, and donate the money instead. I tried to talk him out of this, but over time his logic and determination to help others would win, and he would skip off with $10 in his hand to find a homeless person to help.”

With a passion to support people less fortunate than him, Archie had a big idea.

He wanted to build a free laundromat for people experiencing homelessness, but his vision didn’t stop there – he wanted to offer clean and dry sleeping bags for people to swap out, and employment opportunities for those doing it tough to provide laundry services to the community. Not a bad plan for a nine-year-old!

Like any innovator, Archie knew not to re-invent the wheel, and after hearing about Orange Sky and what we do – he decided that he wanted to come and work for us instead.

“All he wants to do is talk to the people doing it tough, hear their stories and work with them to help make their life better. He was gutted when he found out that you had to be 18 to [volunteer] out with the vans,” Jayne said.

“He wanted us to donate as much money as we could, so we talked about ways he could make money to help out Orange Sky. He decided he would collect bottles and cans (worth 10c per item in South Australia) for recycling, do jobs for people, and ask people to donate their small change.”

When Archie contacted us, he was just about to start an Everyday Hero fundraising page with the goal of raising $1,000 for Orange Sky by his 10th Birthday in May.

Every weekend, he did jobs for others, ranging from gardening, car washing and pool cleaning, right through to picking up dog poo (his least favourite, but highest paying chore). He collected bottles and cans, sorting them and taking them to the recycling depot every couple of weeks, and was humbled when other people began donating their bottles and can takings to his cause.

By his 10th birthday, Archie had raised $1,509.32 for Orange Sky.

To put that in perspective, Archie’s hard work and persistence helped to provide five entire shifts of clean laundry, warm showers and genuine connection for our friends doing it tough.

Jayne said that even though the fundraiser had ended, Archie was still collecting bottles and cans to support Orange Sky and wants to keep raising money until he is old enough to volunteer in eight years time.

“We were blown away by how hard he worked, forgoing many things he would have liked to have purchased with pocket money that was instead given to Orange Sky,” Jayne said.

“We are super proud of him and hope that he never loses the desire to help out people doing it tough.”

Today on International Youth Day, we wanted to celebrate the contribution of young people like Archie in our community.

The theme of International Youth Day 2020, ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’ seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people has a meaningful impact in communities across the world. You can learn more about International Youth Day here.

If Archie’s inspired you to set up your own fundraiser, you can set up your own event page here.

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Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office