Over the past few months USEC Board members have mentioned how many charities and orphanages need gifts for impoverished children throughout Manila. I am constantly telling them that we cannot collect and give toys because the Marines at Post do Toys-for-Tots and we cannot overstep their program.
Luckily when we approached the Gunnery Sergeant he was more than happy to team up together. It has been a month of contacting all our business friends, putting up flyers, decorating boxes, delivering boxes, coordinating logistics, sorting toys, and buying toys to get ready for the big day of giving! This truly was a TEAM effort! We had dozens of volunteers that gave of their time to help us do one or ALL of those steps. Such great people.
Our goal was 1000 toys. We had committed to four charities that totaled 1000 children. There were a few days that I was sweating it out because I was not sure that we were going to make it. However, the businesses in the community REALLY got into the experience and donated hundreds of toys each. The Embassy Community all pitched in too…by the time we were done we had over 2100 toys! Instead of 4 charities and orphanages, we ended up supporting 14!~ Plus all of the children we gave to out at Smokey Mountain!
We spent two days collecting all of our drop boxes. We spent a day sorting. We spent a day shopping to spend the cash that we were given. It was so crazy to go to Divisoria (A CRAZY shopping experience that I have a few blogs about) and shop for 900 more toys. Luckily several colleagues came to help out and (others sent their teenage children that were on Holiday break to help out too! One of them said, "Lots of people, cramped space, hot and you have to argue over the price...this is my definition of Hell! HAHAHA) It was great. The next day we had plenty of war stories about bargaining for toys. Now whenever I walk by a toy store or the toy aisle I think, "Oooh, those are some great toys, I wonder how much we can get them for!!! LOL!
We spent two days giving those toys out with the Marines. Each of the charities and orphanages was a special experience in its own way. As the Marines gave out the toys, several volunteers handed toys, controlled crowds, held babies, and spent time with the children.
|Waiting in line to get their gift!|
There were several “special” moments for me. One was when we were holding newborn babies and all they wanted was to have attention. They wanted to hold our fingers, to see our laughs and to be held. Something we take for granted with our own children and families. Another time was when the a group of toddlers came out to see us all standing outside the living room and wanted to come hug us, touch our faces, ride on our shoulders and tell us stories (which was fun because most of our group did not understand Tagalog)
Another time was when one of the Marines and I went upstairs in the orphanage to give toys to the special needs children. One child was blind and had no use of his limbs, so the Marine carefully opened the gift and talked to the child the whole time. He laid the gift next to his arm and the child had such a smile to know that there was a gift there for him.
Other experiences were memorable, but maybe in a different way…there were mothers out at Smokey Mountain that got aggressive and I was glad that they had not been allowed into the area that we were giving gifts.
|We gave 650 toys to 650 children at Smokey Mountain. See how they are in nice controlled lines to get their gifts...|
|NOW, here are all the mothers with several children behind them. I took this photo over the gate zoom in and you can see their angry faces. They were literally mobbing the place!|
Despite the mobbing mothers at one of our stops, the entire Toys-for-Tots is was a wonderful experience. Another experience to add to the list of Christmas giving. So much service was done to make this happen and the smiles on the children’s faces made it all worth it!
Literally thousands of smiles for the Holiday Season!
Facebook post about it:
US Embassy Webpage:
US Embassy Webpage: