Bringing Back the Smile

By Kim FerrerDecember 17, 2017

Volunteers help poor families find more reasons to enjoy the Christmas season

SEEING CHILDREN SMILE during Christmas is a familiar sight during the holidays. But sadly, not every child is in a merry mood especially those who live in the streets and beg for food. They are not alone. Organizations such as the Virlanie Foundation has been helping underprivileged street children by providing shelter and “bringing back their smiles.”

Virlanie was founded in 1992 by French social worker Dominique Lemay along with Florence Caponong and other Filipino social workers.  With its focus to help disadvantaged kids who roam the streets, Christmas time is a more opportune time to reach out to them.

“This season, Virlanie wishes to do more. With the support of caring individuals, we can give marginalized children and families special treats this Christmas like toys, clothes, Noche Buena packages and outdoor activities,” said Ashley Venerable, Communication Lead of Virlanie Foundation.

The purpose of this year’s holiday gift-giving drive is to provide children with a meaningful Christmas experience. “We believe that all children, regardless of social status, deserve to feel the spirit of Christmas,” Venerable said.

Aside from the material things, Venerable also expressed that giving also helps “uplift their spirits and make them aware that they are also an important part of the society.”

Everyone can pitch in. For as low as P500, a child-beneficiary will receive a toys. For a P1,000 donation, a child will be gifted with a new set of clothes. For P2,000, two families can truly smile with Noche Buena packs while a donation of P2,500 can support an outdoor activity for four children.

“Everyone is encouraged to help in this campaign,” Venerable said. They also invite various donors and partners to take part in this inspirational Christmas project. “We’re hoping to raise funds to enable us to provide this wonderful Christmas experience to our beneficiaries and sustain our developmental programs for poverty alleviation.”

This year, Venerable shared that they pledged to provide a meaningful Yuletide season to over 168 children that will take part in one of a kind Christmas parties and outdoor activities and provide them new clothes and personal gifts. Venerable also added that aside from those, they have adopted five communities that would receive Noche Buena packages for each beneficiary families.


Gift for new beginning

A memorable Christmas awaits beneficiaries of this year’s A Virlanie Christmas Campaign. Two beneficiaries, Jay and Ben, are two young adults from one of Virlanie’s home. According to Venerable, Jay and Ben are “examples of hope” in Virlanie Foundation.  Both of them have experienced serious trials early in life. Their mom is in prison while their stepfather has abandoned them at the ages of four and six, respectively. Many nights, these boys are sent to the police station, homeless and clueless where to go.  In October 2015, Jay and Ben were turned over to Virlanie.

“At Virlanie, they felt loved and cared. For the past 12 years, Jay and Ben have evolved to become responsible young adults. They are now among the youth leaders groomed to lead others who also went astray. Both are performing well in formal school and have an inclination towards painting and music,” she shared.

With the ordeals that these boys have gone through, Venerable believes that they deserve a meaningful Christmas experience.

“This Christmas, Jay wishes for a new pair of shoes while Ben wishes for a set of painting materials. Through the donations for A Virlanie Christmas campaign, their wishes can be granted,” she said. “We encourage the children to create a wish list. We hope that, just like most children, they could receive their most wanted gifts this year. Because we believe they also deserve to feel special.”

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