Karen Carrington moved to Shanghai from the US nearly 20 years ago, retired in 2007 and began volunteering full time (“or more than full time”) for Heart to Heart. H2H is a Shanghai based charity which provides corrective surgery for children from all over China with congenital heart disease (CHD) whose parents are unable to afford the surgery. With the season of giving upon us, we sat down with her to find out what the charity is all about.
How did Heart to Heart come about and how does it work?
We first began collecting donations to sponsor a child for surgery back in 2004, and sponsored the first two children’s operations the following year. To date we have sponsored over 1,500 children for heart surgery. The surgeries not only saved their lives, but transformed the lives of their families.
H2H is proud of the fact that we are and always have been a 100% volunteer organization. We have no paid employees. We also have zero operating budget, which means that 100% of donations are spent on surgeries. Sponsors are given documentation on where their donations were spent and can also visit the children while they are in the hospital for their surgery. Sponsoring a child is a truly moving experience.
It is the best job ever – even if no one gets paid! Nothing can replace the feeling of seeing a child come into the hospital looking like they are going to expire any second (and probably are) and then seeing the same child after surgery looking healthy and strong. It is simply amazing.
Who are the volunteers?
Our volunteers are aged from 15 to well into their 60s. They are men and women and come from all over the world. There are numerous ways to volunteer at H2H. If you have a skill (or even if you don’t), we can use you! There is playing with children in the playroom, sorting donated goods, working events, knitting, sewing, paperwork, project management, manual labor, leading teams, selling, fundraising, finance, management. The list goes on. If there is a skill, we probably need it. And because Shanghai is a constantly changing city with people who come and go often, we are always in the need of new volunteers.
You also do clothing drives – how does that work and how do people donate?
We are constantly in need of new and used things for all ages and genders. Our hospital collection center is open most Tuesday mornings throughout the year and the last Thursday evening of every month for drop-offs. Our website gives details on how to get there and who to call for help. Things can also be sent to our location through kuaidi at any time (address below).
Is it just clothes or are there other things people can donate?
We take almost anything except large items, electronics and breakables. If you want to donate any of these specific items though, it is sometimes possible.
Are there any other projects you guys do?
We also sponsor rural school libraries (146 so far) and sports equipment packages for rural schools (nine so far). We give out food cards to our sponsored families so they can eat in the hospital while their children are having heart surgery, and we go on field trips to visit previously sponsored children. Details of all the programs can be found on our website in English and Chinese.
To learn more about donating or volunteering email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org, add her WeChat (ID Karen-H2H), call her on 13916295852 or visit the H2H website by scanning the QR code below. The H2H collection center is located at the Yodak Cardio Thoracic 3/F, 218 Longcao Lu, Xuhui District, Shanghai, 200235 上海市徐汇区龙漕路218号远大心胸医院3F心连心基金.