Celebrating charitable growth, raising funds for the future
MATTAPOISETT — As Jilline Fearons prepares for her fourth annual Friends of Jack Celebration on Sept. 21, there’s a lot of growth to celebrate with her charity efforts.
She has volunteered for Southcoast Hospitals since 2014, as a baby cuddler, organizing a toy drive to give stuffed animals to every child that enters the hospitals and heading up the restaurant fundraiser, Food for Tots, where restaurants donate a portion of their funds on a specific night back to the hospitals. These actions earned her the Southcoast Hospitals’ Trustees Medal for Outstanding Service in 2018.
But she wasn’t not content to stop there. Fearons has recently widened her scope to include St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River, McLean Hospital in Middleborough and Boston Children’s Hospital.
She has also partnered with law enforcement and social services agencies, including Child and Family Services, The Child Advocacy Center, The Women’s Center, Bristol County Sherriff’s department, New Bedford Police and Fire departments, Mattapoisett Fire and Police departments, the Massachusetts State Police and Fairhaven and Dartmouth Police Departments.
She also works with the department of corrections for when children are visiting family in jail. “Those kids didn’t ask for their parents to be there,” she said.
That may sound like a lot of people to coordinate with as a one-person organization, but, Fearons said “I love what I do, and I love the people that I work with.”
The Mattapoisett resident said her three biggest programs are the stuffed animal drive, a superhero program, and a duffle bag program.
The superheroes program gives first responders, surgeons and medical technicians capes and hero masks to reassure kids. It also allows patients to drive tiny cars to their procedures, “I never want kids to be afraid of someone in uniform,” said Fearons.
Meant for children in foster care, the last program offers them a personalized duffle bag with some toiletries so they will never have to move using garbage bags.
“I want every child to be able to start on the same start line,” Fearons said. She also looks to keep children from being anxious in stressful situations.
Over the last year, Fearons has also bought equipment for hospitals, commissioned artwork for a pediatric waiting room, provided a CPR class in August, coordinated the volunteer program at Boston Children’s Hospital and partnered with Stop & Shop to donate 200 Easter baskets to children who otherwise might not have gotten them.
Fearons also organized a Cuts for Kids event, providing back-to-school haircuts, backpacks with school supplies, pizza and a bounce house for over 800 kids.
Nationally, people and organizations have reached out to Fearons to implement some of her programs. But She stresses that, “though we are growing nationally, Southcoast kids will always come first.”
The superheroes from one of her major efforts will be at the Bay Club on Sept. 21 for Fearons’ celebration and fundraising event.
Fearons said she has sold over 450 tickets already. Attendees will be entered into a diamond raffle with two diamonds, and will have the chance to eat dinner, participate in a raffle, and hear New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro speak.