- Liav Shamriz, VP Charities
This year’s gift drive was quite special. We decided to aim higher than previous years and, with the backing of the EC, we decided to try and raise 1.5 lakhs in funds to donate. We wanted to support three of our charities - ACCEPT Society, Deena Seva and Freedom Foundation - who have one thing in common: they all (mainly) take care of HIV positive patients. Some of them are orphans, some come from broken, dysfunctional homes, and all had to leave their families and live in the accommodations provided by our charities.
When we asked them what they would like to get for Christmas, their response (should I say their surprising response) was “bed covers, a towel, pillowcases, tooth brush and tooth paste". Well, one must bear in mind that what seems trivial for us, can mean the world for another. Although, in our world, Christmas means a big tree with an abundance of wrapped boxes lying under it, to be repeated with the same abundance the next year, for these wonderful people having their own bedsheet and towel can be even better.
So, with this in mind, our mission was to raise funds and achieve the high bar of 1.5 lakhs. It wasn’t easy (why should it be?) but thanks to the amazing people of OWC, their families and friends, we were able to cross the finish line on time. All the Coffee Mornings made a special effort and we were able to raise a substantial amount even before the sale started! A special thanks must be given to Susan David, who contributed a significant sum in the memory of her late husband. Of course, a lot was raised during the annual Christmas bazaar itself with the sale of gift tags, and I must mentioned Sinead (Charity Liaison) and her husband Liam, dressed as elves, who were able to enchant people into donating. No one could miss the joyful couple, in a mission to light the hearts of the underprivileged.
With the bazaar over and Christmas fast approaching, Martina (Charity Secretary) and myself started to look for a supplier of the goods we needed. After checking several options, we found a supplier who was touched by the OWC’s mission and was willing to offer good quality linens. We were even able to add blankets to the package, which were needed in the cold days of winter. Arun, the supplier, was so glad to collaborate with us. He even sent us a thank you note for the whole experience! That’s how much the OWC touches people!
Giving away the bags went as expected. In every charity, the kids and the few adults were more than happy to receive. I must mention that the kids were more thrilled with the candies we included in the bags......and I don’t blame them! However, there was one small detail that we noticed, which revealed how wonderful the whole gift drive is. When we went to ACCEPT Society, we were asked to first give the bags to the few adults who were there since the kids hadn’t returned from school. They all waited patiently as they probably do whenever there is a donor. After the usual speeches and greeting, we started to call out their names and give them the bags. And suddenly, all their eyes lit up knowing that someone had made the effort to dedicate a PERSONAL gift for them. Having their name written on a bag showed that someone thought about them as an individual and it probably touched them in a way we didn’t anticipate. All I can say is that the light that came from these few destitute and severely ill elders was brighter than a thousand suns.
I can only thank the OWC Gift Drive for giving me the opportunity to witness the pure joy that came from these lovely souls. And thanks to all the OWC members for making that happen.