Mor­inville and Dis­trict Hands Across the Seas (HATS) delight­ful trea­sures’ event

Exhibited by
Irene Grant.
June 10, 2011
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
International relief / development
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
October, 2011

SOFII’s view

You might be wondering why we have included this tiny event that raised just $1200. Well here’s why: such tiny events are organised by groups of volunteers all over Canada and have contributed a whopping $12,000,000 to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s grandmothers to grandmothers campaign. It would seem that ‘tiny drops do, in fact, make a vast ocean’. And tiny events, wherever they may be, lift the hearts of professional fundraisers inspiring them on to greater things.

Creator / originator

Members of the Morinville HATS – grandmothers to grandmothers group.

Summary / objectives

To raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s grandmothers to grandmothers campaign.


Africa has become a continent of orphans – AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa has orphaned 14.8 million children under the age of 18. In the midst of this devastation, grandmothers have emerged as the ‘unsung heroes’ of Africa.

They bury their own children and then in their fifties, sixties and seventies become parents to their grandchildren with little or no support. In some countries throughout southern Africa, 40 to 60 per cent of orphans live in a household headed by a grandmother. These courageous, resilient women have no time to grieve. Their priority is the next generation: the infants, toddlers and teenagers who are left behind. Although there is never enough for their burgeoning households, somehow these grandmothers attempt to feed, clothe and comfort their grandchildren.

Groups of grandmothers are at the heart of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s grandmothers to grandmothers campaign. The campaign was launched in March 2006 with the aim of raising awareness, building solidarity and mobilising support in Canada for African grandmothers and the orphaned children in their care.

Since the launch hundreds of groups have raised funds through events such as the ‘share our bounty’ garage and silent auction hosted by the Morinville HATS – grandmothers to grandmothers group. All the items were donated and there were hundreds. Among the most interesting was a set of 10 vintage 1948 tiny animal Golden Books. These are called Tiny Golden books because they measure only 2” x 3” and were the first series in the Tiny Golden Library, published by Simon and Schuster and later reprinted under Golden Press.

The event was organised by eight of the 14 HATS members, who organised everything from unpacking boxes, setting up the stalls and tables, keeping them fresh and full, making sure that everyone was having a good time and taking part, looking after cash, even cooking onions and hot dogs. 

Special characteristics

Thousands of grandmothers all over Canada have taken the opportunity to do something to ease the plight of their counterparts in Africa. ‘Granny bulletins’, organised by the Stephen Lewis Foundation, are regular email updates that aim to keep the volunteers connected to, and informed about, each other and the grandmothers and grassroots projects in Africa, which are supported through their dedicated fundraising and awareness-raising efforts.

Influence / impact

There are now 240 groups of grandmothers throughout Canada and the number is growing all the time. There is no fixed format for groups – each varies in size and scope. They all provide a forum for grandmothers (and their partners, friends and grandmothers in waiting) to share ideas, raise awareness, fundraise and act as advocates and ambassadors for their African counterparts.


The Morinville group (not far from Edmonton, Alberta) has been organising events for the campaign for five years and in that time has raised almost CAD 14,000. In the spring of 2010 approximately 140 groups of grandmothers across Canada took part in ‘stride to turn the tide’. They walked over 12,000 kilometres and raised close to $400,000 in support of the grandmothers of sub-Saharan Africa The campaign overall has raised $12 million since 2006.


Grandparents are often seen by many charities to be natural donors of time, money, or both. These grandmothers to grandmothers groups have focused on connecting people from opposite sides of the world and in dramatically different circumstances, possibly who have little in common except one thing: love of their grandchildren.

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The organisers of the ‘delightful treasures’ event.
These two volunteers look happy to be helping other grandmothers in faraway Africa.
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Noerine Kaleeba, dressed in black in the centre of the photograph, is the founder of The Aids Support Organisation (TASO) in Uganda. Here she is welcoming a friend from the States along with just some of the 42 children and young people she supports.