Astoria resident Jarrad Nunes was in a pre-holiday funk last year when he decided to do something spontaneous.
Grabbing his iPad and throwing wrapping paper up on his bathroom wall, Nunes recorded a video of himself singing a Christmas song and implored his followers to donate money to a charity. He did it 11 more times leading up to Christmas Day, uploading the videos on Facebook.
Dubbed The Cheer Project, Nunes said he wanted to do something to get himself and his friends in the holiday spirit.
“[I thought], ‘I’m just not excited about the holidays this year,'” he said. “How can I channel this funk into something productive? I have a few charities I supported consistently and it would be great to broadcast the charities I really care about to people I really care about.”
Nunes decided to sing Christmas songs because they’re his “absolute favorite” and the tunes tend to resonate with people of all faiths. A self-proclaimed “ham,” Nunes also wanted to fulfill his parents’ wishes.
“I love to sing and don’t get enough opportunity to do it,” Nunes said. “The original thought process was, ‘My parents are always bugging me to hear me sing and this is a great way to satisfy that and make them happy.'”
His efforts helped raise about $7,000 for 12 charities, and Nunes decided to do it again with the help of his partner Andy Genovese, a television producer. Instead of Nunes putting up wallpaper in his bathroom, Genovese was able to use his producing skills to design a set complete with a fake fireplace.
This time around, Nunes also enlisted the help of his talented friends, coworkers and family to sing songs such as “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
On Dec. 13, The Cheer Project video was dedicated to raising money for Comfort Cases, a charity that provides backpacks and duffel bags filled with essential items to foster kids.
Today, donations are being collected for The HOPE Program, a Bronx-based organization that helps lift people out of poverty by providing job training and employment in green construction and building maintenance.
According to Genovese, the duo asked friends and family for charity suggestions and picked a mix of national nonprofits like the American Cancer Society and local organizations to support.
So far, the duo has raised $1,200 for two charities with 10 more to go and they have both been surprised by how generous people have been. Nunes asked people in the comment section to become volunteer project angels, which means pledging to donate to every charity.
“I was totally overwhelmed with how many people have said, ‘I’m in it for the long haul and going to donate every day.'”
The remaining charities include Team UnLIMBited, Give Kids The World Village, ProPublica, American Cancer Society, Monkey’s House, Les Fruits de Mer, Homes For Our Troops, End Rape on Campus, The Trevor Project and Feeding America.
Nunes and Genovese will continue The Cheer Project every year, especially considering the vast number of Christmas songs and nonprofit organizations in need of donations, they said.
“I’m getting comments like, ‘My kids love watching,'” Nunes said. “It’s not just people who are shelling out the money to donate. They’re watching with their families and that’s really fulfilling.”