Sunday 18 March 2018

From bright ideas come big hopes for little ones

JONATHAN Irwin, CEO and founder of the Jack & Jill Children's Foundation, spends much of his time coming up with big ideas to get people to donate their old mobile phones to his foundation, like the latest car giveaway in the Sunday Independnent and Irish Independent.

Why? Because he recycles these phones and turns them into home nursing care for the 322 sick children and their families in Ireland who are supported by Jack & Jill today.

Jonathan's son Jack was one of those precious children who have been born with, or develop, brain damage.

All need and deserve the best possible care at home, where they are loved and cherished within their own family.

However, when Jack Irwin was born on February 29, 1996, there were no services available to him beyond the hospital wall.

The Irwin family, like others in the same situation, had to cobble together their own model of care for Jack with the help of friends and neighbours, including a nurse.

Sadly, Jack passed away on December 13, 1997, but based on their own experiences, Jonathan and his wife Mary Ann O'Brien established the Jack & Jill Foundation in Jack's name, to ensure that other parents could get the practical help they need. Since then, the Foundation has supported over 1,200 families.

Today, with only 19 per cent of its €3m annual budget coming from the State, Jack & Jill has to be creative in raising the rest of the money needed to continue those vital services.

According to Jonathan Irwin: "The VW Golf Giveaway in association with Independent Newspapers is off to a great start and we want as many people as possible to enter. It's important to give people an incentive to dig out those old phones and to put them to good use for sick children in their communities, and with the help of our partners, we can do this."

While cash donations are significantly down for Jack & Jill, its recycling operation is busier than ever, with over a quarter of a million phones collected on its behalf by school children nationwide over the past 12 months.

The 1,400 schools involved in this campaign have swapped their phones for an interactive whiteboard and Jack & Jill is on track to install 400 whiteboards through its partner Promethean at a value of €1.2m. The schools campaign resumes again with full force next month and now Jonathan Irwin is anxious to recruit another teacher-turned-campaigner to get even more schools on board.

In today's Sunday Independent, readers will find an envelope in which they can send in their old mobile phone.

Every reader who sends in their old mobile is automatically entered into a competition to win a new VW Golf.


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