Jacob Gardiner was more than happy to give up his birthday presents this year, in the hope that other, less fortunate children might get the chance to play and enjoy sports like him.

In lieu of presents from his friends, the eight-year-old from Pt Chevalier, who celebrated his eighth birthday in July, asked them to donate whatever money they wished to go to YMCA Auckland and its special programmes for families and children.

“Jacob understands that some kids don’t have the same opportunities to play sports as he does and we talked about how nice it might be for his friends to donate money towards an organisation that provides opportunities for kids that aren’t always as lucky as him, instead of bringing presents this year. He liked the idea that those kids might get to play sports and games more often if we helped them,” says Jacob’s mum, Louise Gardiner.

Louise and Jacob set up a FundraiseOnline fundraising page, with a photo and a blurb they wrote together, and included the link on the birthday party invitations, encouraging friends to donate towards a good cause for Jacob’s birthday.

The duo raised $130 for YMCA Auckland and Jacob and his friends had a fun-filled day celebrating his birthday at Mt Albert Community and Recreation Centre managed by YMCA, where they’d booked out an indoor soccer court for a couple of hours. A YMCA co-ordinator organised the games with the children while the parents were able to use the kitchen to make lunch for the group and relax.

“The boys had a fantastic day and I’m so proud of Jacob and his wanting to give back to other children this birthday,” says Louise.

Niamh Wingate, YMCA Auckland Fundraiser, says, “The YMCA is very lucky to have someone as young as Jacob thinking about others on his own birthday, raising money so that other children can get involved in sports and activities. He really does represent the values of the YMCA. The money Jacob raised will help fund participation in activities for children at Mt Albert YMCA through our fee assistance scheme.”

Jacob is an avid sports fan, currently in year 3 at Pt Chevalier School. In the winter Jacob played winter soccer and he’s now about to kick off a season of summer soccer with Western Springs Football Club. Jacob also plays touch rugby in the Sandringham Juniors tournament and cricket with the Cornwall Cricket Club.

Jill Gibson, Centre Manager for YMCA Mt Albert Community and Recreation Centre, says, “To say a special thank you to Jacob and his kind gesture, we offered him a free day trip with our school holiday programme and we look forward to seeing him soon!”

If you would like to fundraise for YMCA Auckland feel free to set up a donations page via our givealittle page at https://givealittle.co.nz/org/... or contact our Fundraiser, Niamh Wingate, to find out about how you can get involved.