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Who knew a simple hoola hoop could change the world? Carissa Caricato of Tampa, Florida has taken a passion of hers — hoola hooping — and turned it into a campaign to reach out to those in need in Haiti and other parts of the world.
Caricato is a graduate of University of South Florida with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Business Administration and is currently the Founder and “Chief Executive Hoola-Gan” at Hoola for Happiness. She has found a way to bridge her love for the hoola hoop and for people into a campaign that is spreading joy across the globe.
Hoola for Happiness began after Caricato first visited Haiti in 2009. She turned her passion into help for the Haitian families whose homes were destroyed and lives torn apart by the devastating earthquake. Caricato took dozens of hoola hoops to Haiti to give to the children. The purpose, Caricato says, is not hooping, but is building community, starting conversation and giving kids the reason to play.
After my first life-changing, heart-awakening trip to Haiti in January 2009, I started taking hoop dance classes with the Hoola Monsters. When I took a bunch of travel hoops back to Haiti for Christmas in 2009, they were a magical way to interact with the kids (and adults) everywhere! I fell in love, with hooping, Haiti, the contagious joy of the children, but more importantly, with Jesus and His love for the whole world. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, God began to shake and move my world around. After two more trips to Haiti and lots of divine stories, I started Hoola for Happiness in July 2010 to spread the joy of hooping and the love of God all over the world through hooping projects and partnerships.
Carissa’s previous role as Director of Marketing & Communications at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay where she was responsible for communicating the mission of the Crisis Center and the resources provided to the community, as well as garnering support for the services launched her into the position she is in today. The Crisis Center brings help, hope and healing to over 175,000 adults, children and families in Tampa Bay each year.
Watch this video of Carissa teaching children to hoola hoop.
This year, Hoola for Happiness is celebrating two years of hooping adventures at their Hoola 2-La Anniversary Bash. If you are in the Tampa Bay area, join the Hoola for Happiness team for the celebration and learn how you an get involved. For more information, to purchase tickets or make a donation, click here.