Give a Kid a Blanket
Humble. Compassionate. Self-sacrificing.
Professionally, Bernie Harfleet has worked with children and adults with intellectual disabilities for 33 years.
He and his partner, Donna Turtle Sarten, are also well known for their artwork that tackles abuse of women and children, mental health and poverty.
For the past six years, they have harnessed community goodwill with the charity Give a Kid a Blanket, which they founded to embrace children in need with warmth and love.
Every winter the charity collects blankets, pyjamas and other warming items which are given to children and families in need through social workers, public health nurses, the police, refuges and community workers.
The idea is that the people who receive the blankets benefit from both physical and emotional warmth, and feel valued by the community.
"Over the last six years, we have gifted around 100,000 items," says Bernie.
"We never focus on those receiving support as this can be victimising, but rather focus on the community of kindness that has grown around the project."
"We also supply family care packs to North shore and Auckland hospital ICU departments.
"I do this because it is possible to make a difference with practical local action and kindness," says Bernie, who has twice been nominated for New Zealander of The Year.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Give a Kid a Blanket will use its grant to buy bedding, mainly duvet inners, covers and pillows following a shortfall of donations due to COVID-19.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.