This weekend there were more than 2,000 Santa’s running around Buena Park! GCHope is so thankful for the opportunity to be the charity sponsor of the Buena Park Santa Hustle last Saturday at Knott’s Berry Farm. All registered runners received a red Santa Hustle sweatshirt, Santa hat, and white beard to run in! It was quite an experience to be surrounded by a sea of Santas waiting to begin their race. The half marathoners took off first at 7:00 am, followed by the 5k runners soon thereafter. As if 2,000 people dressed in Santa costumes weren’t enough, every volunteer that helped hand out water or check people in wore an elf costume! There was no way to escape the electric Christmas cheer everywhere! The race course wound around rollercoasters and rides with inspirational signs all along the way to cheer people on. One of the runners was Buena Park’s own City Councilwoman, Beth Swift, supporting GCHope! GCHope is so thankful to Adrenaline Sports Management and Knott’s Berry Farm for allowing us to be the benefactor of this festive event.
Since August GCHope has prayerfully and strategically worked to support those treating Ebola patients in Liberia. The virus has tragically taken over 6,000 lives, with 10% of those deaths being health care providers that contracted the virus while treating those with Ebola. Thus far GCHope’s response team has partnered with two incredible nonprofit partners, Kids Around the World and Africa Mercy Partners, to get two 40-foot containers with sanitation and other medical supplies to those in need. One container arrived weeks ago in Monrovia, Liberia and has been delivered to a clinic in desperate need of supplies. The second container will be arriving in Monrovia on January 10th.
The supplies that arrived in Liberia went to a clinic in Paynesville, a Monrovia suburb where Dr. Martha Zarway runs a clinic. The clinic treats all different illnesses and conditions from diabetes to pregnancy. The clinic staff has taken extra measures to ask patients if they have come in contact with anyone who has Ebola, especially since one of their staff passed away recently without a diagnosis. Zarway described one major difference between living through the Liberian civil war and the Ebola outbreak. “During the war, we could hug each other and give some comfort,” she says. “But now, with Ebola, you have to be careful. You have to stay distance apart.”
GCHope’s future plans include sending two more containers of supplies with another partner, Containers of Hope. Containers of Hope is a Brea-based non profit that serves people in Liberia by “providing love, clothing, school supplies and hope in Jesus through the gift of His word (a bible).” These containers will include items such as food, clothes, medical supplies, and school supplies. The supplies will be distributed throughout the county of Bonga and to multiple orphanages in Monrovia, Liberia.
“The virus is still a very serious challenge for Liberia. The death rate keeps going up by the day. I do personally think the worst is still to come before the virus is brought under control. I don’t pray for the worst but many people are still living and behaving as if the virus is not real. And yet, they see the reality on the news daily,” said John, the Containers of Hope field representative.
“Pray for the safety of the people of Liberia. Pray for our partners and friends serving these people. For a clear path to get these supplies to those in need and may it bless them,” said Todd Williams, Containers of Hope Chairman.
Please consider donating to GCHope’s Ebola response. Every penny makes a difference!
Dr. Zarway happy to receive all the new supplies from GCHope.
We love seeing how enthusiastic children can be about giving back to the community. When a group of Camp Fire girls came into GCHope, we were stunned by what they did. A group of 12 Camp Fire girls came together to created an amazing food drive in their own community of Long Beach. This group of young girls had brown bags donated from Fresh and Easy. They attached a flyer to each bag asking for donations of canned or boxed food and left these empty bags on the porches of houses in their community. When the girls returned at the end of the week to collect the donations, they had an overwhelming amount of support from their neighbors. Together, the Camp Fire girls collected over 188 pounds of food for homeless children in Orange County! Thank you, Camp Fire girls for participating in our mission of serving vulnerable children and families. We cannot wait to have you come back!
We love our volunteer groups! Just last week, we had a group of wonderful volunteers from Experian. This group of volunteers went above and beyond what was asked of them. Besides volunteering here at GCHope, the 27 volunteers collectively donated $500 from their own pockets for GCHope! Amazing work, Experian. Thank you for participating in our mission of serving vulnerable children and families across the street and around the world.
It’s hard to believe it has been a year since the devastating Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. When the disaster struck a year ago, GCHope headquarters felt like a newsroom with people working furiously at their desks and swapping information to plan our disaster response accordingly.
GCHope was one of the first responders with water filtration systems in the air before the storm had even passed. Four days after the storm ended on November 15, there was a 40-foot container at our facility, quickly filling up with water, food, hygiene supplies and medical aid to be sent to some of the hardest-hit areas. That same week over 70 volunteers spent an evening at GCHope with open hands prepared to help in anyway possible.
One year later, GCHope hasn’t given up. With your help we have sent 15 containers of disaster relief supplies to the Filipino people who have been piecing back together their livelihoods. GCHope’s efforts were divided into specific stages to best support our partners in the fields. We met specific requests beginning with basic needs, nutritional foods, and ending with medical resources. Some of our first containers were full of water and filtration systems to meet the immediate water needs people were encountering after the storm. GCHope’s second focus has been to provide a stable food source to 15 schools on the island of Cebu. GCHope’s Executive Director, Sean Lawrence visited the Philippines in March and was happy to report that since receiving the food from GCHope months ago these children can count on a hot meal every single day and 80% of them have lost all signs of malnutrition and have gained a healthy amount of weight. This is something to celebrate! In the next two months GCHope will provide food to 33 more schools, providing more meals to children in need in the Philippines.
The third stage of GCHope’s disaster efforts is medical resources. GCHope plans to set up a medical supply station at each of the 48 schools distributing food so that those children can easily access the medical care they need. GCHope is most excited about our plans to ship medical clinic containers fully equipped and supplied that upon arrival can be transformed into a two room clinic within a matter of minutes! Currently there are clinics once a month at the food distribution sites where 200 patients are seen a day but there is a need for much more. Thank you for your support this past year and please continue to pray for the Filipino people GCHope has yet to reach.
GCHope is blessed to have so many volunteers. We love when they come back to continue volunteering with us. One dedicated volunteer group has amazed us by coming every week for over 4 years! Easter Seals stops by GCHope 3 times a week to volunteer. Easter Seals is a group of special needs adults who come to volunteer at GCHope to help build their skills of counting, organizing and more. Each week about 6 people from Easter Seals come to volunteer. These dedicated volunteers stay for 2 – 4 hours every day and are exceptional workers. “They are always excited to volunteer and are more than willing help with whatever is needed,” says Volunteer Coordinator Angie Brock. We are so grateful for your dedication and hard work. Thank you Easter Seals for joining in our mission of serving vulnerable children and families across the street and around the world. See you next week!
On a street in Buena Park, within the scope of 2 football fields, hope grows. A homeless family walked into our office today needing shelter. Dad has work lined up, but in the interim they pan handle for a warm place to sleep. They came to Giving Children Hope, looking for…hope. We do not offer hotel vouchers, but we do have a few friends that understand what we do and happily help when they can. At the far end of Commonwealth is the Jain Center, and that is where I know my friend Prafulla. She paid for the family’s stay at the hotel just 100 yards down the block from her church. When I left to pay for the room, I told a staff person where I was going. She was once homeless; she went to her purse and pulled out 2 Target gift cards she insisted I take to the family. I drove the distance of a football field to the hotel, which sits smack in between our organization and the Jain Center. I met the appreciative family and the hotel clerk handed mom the keys. When I explained the two gift cards were a gift from a staff friend, she looked at me as if I gave her the winning powerball ticket. She asked me to thank the generous donor who helped them in their journey.
It’s days like this, when we do what we normally don’t do, that true meaning and purpose fill every bit of our soul.
Written by: Giving Children Hope’s Director of Community Programs Christine Sanchez
The family with their Target gift cards.
There were 316 wonderful guests who attended GCHope’s annual gala, Delivering Hope, this Saturday at the Hyatt Regency of Orange County. GCHope staff is so incredibly blessed by our family of supporters that truly care about making a difference in the lives of so many children. “It was amazing having so many of our GCHope family members in one room showing their passion for the cause,” said Executive Director Sean Lawrence. “It was an exceptionally successful event.”
The 19 40’s themed evening entailed a silent auction, live music, a live auction, dinner and dancing with special musical guests, the Los Angeles Muses. Sean Lawrence spoke about GCHope’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, sending more than 17 containers of needed items for those in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. He narrated the tragic stories of refugees he met and prayed with on his most recent trip to Lebanon. Director of Community Programs, Christine Sanchez, shared about GCHope’s food distributions both locally in Orange County and internationally in the Philippines, and board member Dr. Vance Gardner shared about our medical resources changing lives around the world. Those who attended heard real life success stories from those that are being fed, loved, and supported by GCHope.
The total amount raised at the gala was $92,000!!!!! Thank you to everyone that helped us raise that incredible amount. All donations will go to support GCHope’s food distributions both locally and internationally.
GCHope’s gala was sponsored this year by Thrivent Financial, Nutrilite, Shelly BMW, Lee & Perrin Real Estate, Southern California Gas Company, Buena Park Downtown, US Bank, and Esquivel Shoes.
Jessica, one of Giving Children Hope’s WGYB kids, greeted me with a toothless smile and began telling me all about her life and how excited she was about all the new things she was receiving from GCHope. Jessica appears to be a joyful, normal child growing up in Orange County, but her big heart has gotten her through many trials.
Jessica can’t walk long distances without feeling pain or exhaustion since a recent surgery in July. Jessica was born with Spina Bifida, which is a condition that prevents her vertebrae from fully forming. It caused her to hunch and would eventually disable her. Jessica’s doctor decided she needed surgery to prevent further damage in July and the next day she came back to have it done. On average, for every hundred people that have this particular medical procedure, only one person is able to regain enough function in their spinal cord to walk. It is a huge answer to prayer that Jessica can use her legs and within two months already she can stand, walk, and will soon be able to run.
Jessica still gets very tired from walking everywhere since her family doesn’t own a car. GCHope was able to give her mom a beautiful new stroller for Jessica to ride in that retails for close to $500. Jessica’s family lives in a studio apartment and the three of them sleep on the floor every night. Sleeping on the floor has been hard on Jessica’s back and her mother humbly reached out to ask for a few things that might better her recovery. Thanks to an amazing donor, GCHope was able to deliver a bed and mattress that Jessica can sleep in every night. Since receiving her new bed, Jessica says she wakes without pain anymore. The family also received all new linens, bedding, and some clothing because they recently had to throw out many items due to bedbugs in their home.
There is so much to be thankful for when hearing Jessica’s story. Her life truly is a miracle and GCHope is thankful to witness it and be able to walk alongside this family, offering encouragement and support whenever possible.
“Responsible for Their Story”
Written by: Giving Children Hope’s Executive Director, Sean Lawrence
“Now you’re responsible for their story,” my dad said to me after my first humanitarian trip 25 years ago. We were packing up to fly home after several weeks visiting orphanages and hospitals in Vietnam, and my dad, a man who spent his career as a journalist telling the stories of the world’s suffering, wanted me to know that the stories that we’d witnessed and heard couldn’t end with us. With the privilege of hearing these stories comes the responsibility of passing them on, of entrusting them to others and doing our part to have a positive impact on their stories outcome.
To this day I still feel the responsibility to share the stories that have been entrusted to me. Whether it be families here in Orange County struggling to put food on the table or survivors of natural disasters, we have the opportunity to be participants in their stories.
Recently I was part of a small team that visited the Bekaa Valley, a beautiful agricultural hub of Lebanon whose fertile fields end in the foothills of Syria. Over the past several years these fields have become a temporary home to over one million Syrians seeking refuge from the terror taking place in their homeland.
We spent part of our time distributing food and hygiene kits to refugees living in makeshift camps filled with temporary tents, but the majority of our time was spent sitting and hearing their stories. We sat on their floors, drank coffee, asked questions, listened and prayed. The stories they shared were repeated throughout the week by different families in different temporary homes: tales of bombings, kidnappings, torture, harrowing escapes, lost family members, destroyed villages, and hopeless futures.
Most conversations would end with us praying together and the first prayer request in each home was always for an opportunity for their children to get an education. The remaining requests included safety for themselves and for family members left behind in Syria, peace in their homeland, food and warm clothes. One family with five young children asked us to pray for protection for their three-month-old baby who kept getting bit by rats as she slept.
Sadly, the people that we met represent only a small percentage of the approximately three million Syrian refugees living in temporary camps like this in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
So what do we do with their stories? GCHope has been actively sending relief items over the past two years. Every month, 40-foot containers filled with food, clothes, soap and medical supplies are packed up and sent out of our warehouse; fifteen have left so far.
But we need your help. Our partners in Lebanon and Jordan are in urgent need of winter relief items such as new clothes (jackets, sweatshirts, adult and children), blankets, new shoes and hygiene items. Winters in the camps are cold and wet.
Unfortunately, the needs continue to grow as the conflict in Syria escalates. We invite you to join us in being responsible for their story.