By Breanna Inferrera
A CONFRONTING encounter has prompted a young girl from Lesmurdie to start a project to help those who are homeless stay warm this winter.
Last year, Elissa Bolton’s mum Rachael found her crying in her room one night.
When Mrs Bolton asked Elissa what was wrong, the 11-year-old told her mum she had seen a young homeless person sitting on the street outside a shopping centre in the cold.
“I had just come back from a holiday with my sisters, so I was on a bit of a high,” Mrs Bolton said.
“It was probably the first time we’d had a conversation about homelessness.
“It was a tricky conversation, but I always teach my children we have to deal with facts and the fact is there are homeless people, so what do we do and how can we be better to support them.”
It was from home-schooling during COVID-19 that Elissa, along with some help from her mum, came up with the Spread the Warmth project.
The project encourages local businesses to host a collection box, where community members can donate warm items including blankets, jumpers, gloves, pants, socks and beanies to those who are homeless.
In a couple of weeks, Elissa and Mrs Bolton plan to take the collection boxes to Uniting WA, a community services organisation which works to address the causes of vulnerability and disadvantage, who will distribute the items.
Elissa, who is a year six student at Gooseberry Hill Primary School, said she has so far received lots of support from the community.
“I’ve spoken to my principal and he said he’d love to be a collection point,” she said.
“And all my friends are really happy about it and have been really kind saying they’ve got lots of stuff at home they can donate.
“My goal is to make sure homeless people in Perth are really warm over winter and they stay dry and healthy.”
Mrs Bolton said she was very proud of her daughter.
“I have four daughters and Elissa is the eldest, so she’s setting the benchmark pretty high for her younger sisters,” she said with a laugh.
“She has a very warm and giving heart.
“She wants to be a teacher and help people, my husband’s a teacher so I think she’s seen the impact they have on their students.”
Elissa and Mrs Bolton hope the Spread the Warmth project will become an annual project for the Perth Hills community.
For more information about the project and to get involved, head to the Spread the Warmth Facebook page.