MANILA -- For several hours last Monday, about 131 residents of the Nayon ng Kabataan for abandoned and disadvantaged children were all smiles as they enjoyed an early Christmas present.
On that day, members of the Philippine Army reached out to the kids by joining them in the “U! Happy” charity event, where the latter were treated to food, gifts and games.
To break the ice, the Army contingent sat with the children and played party games with them. Their “Bring Me” contest had a twist – instead of scavenging for items, the participants had to make paper cutouts of whatever they were asked to bring – a hut, a heart, a snowman, puto bumbong, bells, and Rudolph the reindeer. In playing “Pass the Ball”, the participants had to guess whatever the one holding the ball was acting out. A clown also performed magic tricks for young and old alike.
Then came the presents -- chocolate, fruits, and food enumerated in the children’s wish lists. The soldiers later gifted them with new appliances – a washing machine, electric fans, among others – that were also on the kids’ wish lists.
Army Col. Eugene Mata said it was heart-warming to see the children happy.
“Sila talaga ang dapat na matulungan ngayong Pasko. Actually, di lamang ngayong Pasko, every opportunity to help, dapat nga sila yung bigyan dahil sila yung deprived (These kids are the ones we should help this Christmas. Actually, not only during Christmas but every opportunity we have, we should help them because they are deprived),” said Mata.
He added that they plan to make the initiative a tradition in the coming years.
Asuncion Flores, head of Nayon ng Kabataan, which was founded by the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD) in 1968, thanked the organizers of the event for coordinating with them these past months.
She lauded the Philippine Army for spending time and effort to share their resources to make this Christmas special for the children – some of whom were orphans, or were abandoned, abused or exploited.
Flores said that the Army last year also reached out to abandoned senior citizens in a DSWD-run home.
"Kaya po tinatanggap po namin ng taos-puso ang inyong pagdating (We whole-heartedly welcome your arrival here). We are very happy that we are part of the goodwill for our children in Nayon ng Kabataan," she added.
Meanwhile, organizers of the U! Happy event said for the past 11 years, they had been inspiring volunteerism by connecting sponsors and donors to the marginalized children.
"Yung ating mga kabataan dito sa Nayon, sila po ay mga abandoned, merong orphaned, mga kabilang sa pamilya na di maalagaan ang kanilang mga anak (The youths here in Nayon had been abandoned or orphaned, or were part of families that neglected them),” said Harvard Uy de Leon, founder of U! Happy Events.
“Nandito po kami para mabigyan sila ng tunay na kaligayahan ng Pasko sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay ng volunteerism, pagbigay ng oras sa kanila, pagbigay po sa kanila ng aming mga blessings (We are here to share with them the joy of Christmas through the spirit of volunteerism, and give them our time and blessings),” he added.
U! Happy Events is a non-governmental organization that provides support and teaches values to marginalized children.
“Kami po ay mga organizers ng mga outreach programs, so kung kayo ay nangangailangan ng tulong para sa pag-organize ng mga mabubuting gawain, kami po ay nasa inyong lingkod para po makipag-partner sa inyo (We organize outreach programs, so if you need help in your charitable work, we are at your service and we would like to partner with you),” said de Leon.
Nayon ng Kabataan is in Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City. (PNA)