This week, as quiet as it’s kept, a team of volunteers moved into high gear in preparation for Open Your Heart Foundation’s Sixth Annual Boxing Day event to be held next Tuesday, at the Somerset Cricket Club.

What started from humble beginnings at the height of the recession that saw record numbers of families faced with economic hard times due to unemployment in Bermuda, has now grown to attract record turnouts twice a year on Good Friday and Boxing Day.

Open Your Heart Foundation was founded by a group of men in Somerset, who decided they would do their part to bring a little extra joy to the children in families struggling to survive.

They don’t wear suits or ties, but they dig deep into their own pockets to stage two free events that takes a lot of hard work and money to pull off. Thanks to community support, once again, a number of sponsors have stepped up to assist this year. And anyone who attends can leave their wallets at home because you won’t need them. But there will be donation bottles  on hand for contributions.

Lead volunteer organizer Tianna Saltus, during a live interview on Vibe 103 FM on Thursday morning, said they started wrapping gifts on Wednesday night. And in the days ahead, while most families are busy preparing for Christmas, they bypass quality time with their own families and friends to prepare to the big event on Boxing Day.

Volunteers this year, include the Somerset’s senior football team members and several others who chip in to lend a helping hand to pull off the intense round of work that goes into pulling this event off.

Everything served during the entire day is free of charge, including whole lambs from Bascombe’s Farm, that’s roasted underground all day, the old fashioned way, to be served as the main course before it all ends.

The event gets underway at 11am on Boxing Day and runs through to 6pm. There will be fun castles, activities offered by Extreme Sports, and a dance competition for the children organised by the Bermuda Squad.

And as usual, barbers will be on hand to offer free haircuts for all children and seniors who want them.

Asked why Open Your Heart Foundation do what they do each year, Ms Saltus said: “We wanted to fill in the gaps left by people struggling. We saw the need and filled it to make a difference. Our main focus is the children to keep them happy and that makes us happy.

“We have people say their children didn’t get much for Christmas every year, so the gifts which are also free, are greatly appreciated,” she added.

She also extended a big thank you to a long list of sponsors who stepped up to help them fulfill their cause again this year. 

After the gifts are opened at her house, she said she will sign off for Christmas Day to begin preparing the massive amount of food to be served all day on Boxing Day at the Somerset Cricket Club.

The group holds their annual Good Friday Family Day event at the Warren Simmons field where there was record turnout this year. The Boxing Day event is held at SCC due to daylight savings time, and the fact that it gets dark early.

On that note, as a Somerset fan, she said: “Our club has the best lights.” And she encouraged families, particularly those facing hard times to attend.

But she said there’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. And it’s not too late to volunteer to lend a helping hand.

  • File Photos by Bermuda Real