Last year after trying to organize our annual Children for Children concert (HERE)
right in the thick of Christmas week (loved it, but the timing was not the best idea)
, we vowed we’d do it the first Monday of December this year.
And because our neighbors (who we’ve joined with to do this concert the last few years) are on the ball, we did 🙂
Ha! I’ve got to give us a little credit too…although we were still scrambling last-minute, we did have the organization we were raising money for all picked out nice and early and already had a personal relationship building there.
Because we are going there for Christmas. And our neighbors are too.
This year we raised money for OSSO
(Orphanage Support Service Organization).
It’s funny because we both came to know about OSSO through totally different sources. My friend told me about this organization last year when I was looking for some service opportunities for our service trip with Grace and Claire. (We took Max and Elle to India when they were about the same ages …back HERE…and HERE…and all India posts are linked up on the blog sidebar…and have always planned to take the next ones on a different trip.)
My friend’s son had worked there for an extended period of time and she had the best things to say about it.
Then I found out my other friend’s niece had served there for months as well, and I talked to her at length about how that program works. I made some initial contact with the organization to find out more but by that time Grace had secured a pretty great internship in China for the summer so we put it on the back burner.
In the meantime our neighbors met a family who had gone to this same orphanage one Christmas a few years back. Their daughter had been serving there for a few months and she claimed she just could not leave those kids for Christmas. So they all joined her there. Our neighbors sent their son to work there last summer, (I didn’t even know it was at the same place I had researched before), and decided they wanted to go this Christmas. When they asked if we wanted to join them we were already half way there.
When we found out that Max would be gone for Christmas again, and we wanted to do something meaningful along with him this season, we knew this was what we wanted to do. Sure, we’d be on the other side of the planet from where he would be, but we wanted to give our Christmas away just as he was. There are so many ways to give away Christmas right where we are, of course, but this one really spoke to us this year.
So, long introduction, but we had our project for our Children for Children Concert picked out easy peasy this year. Those kids over there need lots of things. It is a special needs orphanage so they need everything from wheelchairs to breathing tubes to adult diapers to food and even help with legal fees to help some of the children become adoption eligible. There is also a need to repaint some things in the orphanage that hopefully we’ll be able to help with, and their dream is to some day have a washer and dryer.
Since Claire and Grace had both taken a year serving as the “masters of ceremonies” for the concert, this year our neighbor Drew took the reins and made it his Eagle Scout project.
You see, a Children for Children concert is planned by children, performed by children, and those children raise money (their parents pay to watch them perform) for a specific cause each year. (more about the history of these concerts back HERE
These kids planned…
…and beautifully executed a great night.
As people came in we had them help make snowflakes:
(Our plan is to turn the orphanage into a winter wonderland on Christmas Eve, and snowflakes are an easy thing to take part of the love from these people here over to those people there.)
Our neighbors invited their friends who had spent Christmas there a few years ago (who also happen to be our friends…and who had the snowflake idea:), to come share some stories in between the talents being shared.
The stories and experiences they shared were incredible…and made everything so personal…especially thinking we would be there doing the same things in a matter of weeks.
The talents shared by the kids included everything from magic tricks:
…to jingling jingle bells:
And some gymnastics routines and singing too.
The dad of the family who had served in Ecuador before shared a quote about how children need not only to be loved, but they need to love.
He was sharing that referring to the children at the orphanage…it is so good for them to be loved but also to develop love for others…those who are serving them.
But as he shared that quote I couldn’t help linking that thought to these kids getting up there to perform that night. Performing is not easy for most. But tears welled up in my eyes especially when the kids who were so dang nervous got up and performed. Sharing those talents to raise money to help those kids over in Ecuador is a beautiful thing. It was their act of LOVE they could share. And I loved it.
Lots of great talent shared, so proud of those kids.
A few more snowflakes made as everyone was leaving.
And now we have a whole pile to bring with us to share as a symbol of some love from kids here in the desert.
There was a little box for donations from the parents (in exchange for the talents they were able to watch):
And these kids were pretty excited to count up the donations after everyone left and find that they had exceeded all their goals.
So grateful for all the wonderful support and generosity of so many…as well as a generous donor who is willing to match all those donations. So excited to share how it all works out over there as these kids get to watch their work go to building better lives.
And always, loving more.