The Blogunteer recently profiled the Kids Are Heroes organization and has profiled many of their heroes in the past. Today we profile another hero, Jason O’Neill, a young entrepreneur with a giving spirit!
When Jason was only nine years old, he wanted make a product to sell at a craft fair. He wanted a product that could make homework more fun. The idea of the Pencil Bug was born. With the help of his parents, Jason made his first Pencil Bug. The bugs caught on very quickly he was soon busy taking orders and making new bugs on a regular basis. Since then, Jason has also added t-shirts, laminated bookmarks, and greeting cards to his product line up.
But, this isn’t the real reason that the Blogunteer has chosen to profile Jason. Since he started his business in 2005, he has been making donations to help other kids. The first charity he selected was the HUGS Foster Family Agency where he lives. Since 2008, Jason has been donating to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California. Each quarter he makes a unique donation for the kids in the hospital, including activity bags, toys, board games, crayons, coloring books, books, teddy bears, puzzles, and more!
This past weekend, Jason delivered more bears to the Rady Children’s Hospital! For a video, please check out Jason’s website.
When asked about why he is involved with the Children’s Hospital, Jason says, “Most people think that I was probably in the hospital for one reason or another and that’s why I chose them. The truth is, I have always been healthy, never had a broken bone and have never been in the hospital. But I know there are some kids who aren’t as fortunate and can’t help that they have illnesses or injuries so I thought I could do my part and buy toys, games, books, and other activities for the kids that might help their stay in the hospital not so bad.”
Jason describes the teddy bear collection he started in 2009 as his most rewarding volunteer experience. “My goal was 250 bears. By the beginning of November, I had raised enough money (including my own from my Pencil Bugs business) to buy 400 teddy bears. I thought that was a lot and was really happy. Then the week of Thanksgiving, I was interviewed on the NBC news station in San Diego. The very next day, my story hit MSN’s home page and donations started pouring in from all over the world. Within a week or so, I had raised over $5,000 which allowed me to buy 1800 teddy bears — just a few more than my original goal. We tied a donation tag on EACH bear with the person’s name who donated money. It was a lot of work but definitely worth it.”
You can help Jason with his cause by purchasing Pencil Bugs products or his book, “Bitten By the Business Bug” from his website, www.pencilbugs.com. You can also follow Jason’s blog or connect with him on Twitter or Facebook to keep up to date with his fundraisers and projects.
Jason not only makes his own donations, he also encourages others to give. “I think donating is just a part of life. If you can help someone else in some way, then people should. A lot of people think you need to give a lot in order for it to count so if they can’t, they don’t do anything. I always remind people that even the smallest effort can make a huge difference in someone else’s life and a lot of times, you may not even know how you affect them but it still counts.”