OK, OK, I know that a lot of you have been waiting to hear about the give-away of Christmas food, candy and toys that Feyma and I conducted last week! I am sorry that I didn’t post about it immediately after the give-away, but I really wanted to take a little break, and spend more time with my family last week. I hope you all understand.
First, let me say that the Christmas funds drive was a great success. This was the first year that I asked for any donations toward this cause, and the response was far greater than I expected. You folks who are reading this really opened up your wallets, and extended great generosity toward the event, and I know in my heart that a lot of people really came to appreciate that when they sat down for probably the best meal they had eaten in 2008.
Before getting started with how it all went, let me say that when I asked for donations, my goal that I had in mind was $2,000 toward the event. That was my goal. My expectation was that it would be good if we could raise $500. We got donations from 28 different people. Donations ranged from $5 up to $500! All donations were greatly appreciated. I can honestly say that when I got an e-mail that $500 had been donated by a single person, I almost fell out of my chair, it was much more than I expected. There were a lot of $100 contributions, and many for $50, $20, etc. too. I had hoped that a larger number would contribute, but the amount raised was more than I expected, and that is what puts food in people’s mouths, so that is the most important. The total amount of donations was a little shy of the $2,000 goal that I had set, but relatively close.
At the time that I asked for donations, we did not know where we would go to distribute the contributions. Randy left a comment suggesting that we distribute the items on Samal Island, which sounded good to me. However, after reflecting on it, we decided against that. The reason is that we spend a lot of time on Samal (obviously!), and most people there know us, and recognize us. If we go there and give out a ton of free food, we fear that it will be expected whenever people see us. This could really limit our enjoyment of Samal Island, and thus we decided to go elsewhere. In the end, we settled on a trip to the Marilog District, and Buda, in the mountains Northwest of Davao. There is a lot of poverty up there, and it is also a large area, not relatively small like Samal.
We like to do the distributions of these gifts on Christmas Eve day, because if we were to give it earlier, we think that the food would be eaten early, and it is our hope that the food will provide a good Noche Buena Christmas Celebration for the families that receive the items. So, at 8 am on December 24, we loaded up the truck, and also our SUV (it took two vehicles to haul all the goods) and headed out! Our first stop was to pick up our good friend, Robert Bula. Robert is a Filipino from Davao, but has been living in the States for decades. He has been a regular reader of a number of my blogs for years now, and he made a contribution toward the food giveaway, and also asked to come along with us (Robert is in town for vacation right now). Robert turned out to be the official photographer for the event (Robert is a serious photography hobbyist).
We headed up toward Marilog and had made two stops to give out gifts when a bit of a problem struck! The truck had a blowout! The right front tire went totally flat, and turned out to have a gash in the side from a sharp rock along side the road. It took a couple hours due to a number of issues, but we finally got the tire changed, and were on the road again to spread good cheer and gifts from LiP readers. This week, we’ll need to buy a new tire for the truck, as that tire was damaged beyond repair.
We all really enjoyed giving out the food gifts. In all, we had 70 large packs of food, enough to serve an entire family a good Christmas Meal. We also had 150 bags of toys and candy for children. Additionally, we distributed 50 pounds of pork, and about 30 chickens to the poor. We also gave out 20 huge tins of Christmas Cookies.
In addition to this, we also gave $250 to Father Franco, our Italian Priest Friend in Bukidnon. Father held a big Christmas Party for the native kids in his area. In all, 100 kids were served Arrozcaldo (a dish made with chicken and rice), Binignit (a dish made with fruits) and other items. The 100 kids also enjoyed games and other activites, and were awarded prizes if they did good in the games. Father reported to me that it was indeed a great party for the kids, and they really enoyed themselves a lot!
I want to thank each and every one of you who participated in this event. Without your generosity, these people would have had a rather bleak Christmas. There were old people who shed plenty of tears when they got what we gave them, it really warmed our hearts so much. We felt really good about what the LiP community did for these less fortunate people!
Please scroll down for a group of pictures from the event. You can also see a larger group of photos by going to the Gallery. I am sorry to report that before going out to give the gifts , we were so busy loading all the stuff and preparing everything that we forgot to bring the video camera this year! So, I am sorry that there is no video to share this time, but I hope that you enjoy the photographs.
Again, thank you to everybody who contributed to this worthy cause!