Updates: ‘Orange County’
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.
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.
GCHope’s Community Development Director, Elizabeth Saldana said, “Through our Tackling Child Hunger event we have been able to make new friends that share our passion for helping the less fortunate. It has been a blessing to see so many people across various cities come together to collect food for the homeless children and families we serve. A simple bag of rice or canned meat can make the difference between a child going to bed hunger or not. Many children will be going to bed with a full tummy because of our new friends aka Hunger Fighters. On behalf of all the children we serve we thank you for your generosity and look forward to doing it again next year!”
Tackling Child Hunger wrapped up on September 30! We had an amazing turn out from four cities and 40 schools that participated in order to help local families in need. GCHope staff was amazed by the willingness of so many people to make a month-long food and fund drive possible. A HUGE shout out and thank you to the City of Buena Park, City of Stanton, City of Fullerton, Los Cerritos Center, and Buena Park Downtown for hosting food drives. More importantly, thank you for believing in GCHope’s mission to serve vulnerable children across the street and around the world. GCHope is lucky to be surrounded by so many cities, business, organizations, and individuals that joined Tackling Child Hunger to make our local community a better place.
The grand total donated was 18,800 pounds of food! All of the food received will go directly to the homeless children in WGYB that receive a backpack of nutritious food every week.
There are 30,000 homeless children in Orange County. In order to bring more attention to that statistic, PawnShop kings came to town! As part of Tackling Child Hunger, GCHope’s hunger awareness month, we hosted a benefit concert on September 13 for WGYB. In addition to enjoying the live music and food, we celebrated GCHope’s newly finished aquaponic garden! Thanks to all who attended the show, GCHope raised over $2,000!
Tackling Child Hunger is a month-long food and fund drive to kick off WGYB’s school year. GCHope’s goal is to increase the number of backpacks distributed by 15% which is close to 200 more backpacks each week. In order to accomplish that task, GCHope must ensure we have enough donors and food to commit to those on our waiting list.
This year we are proud to say that Tackling Child Hunger will be held in partnership with the City of Buena Park, the City of Stanton, the City of Fullerton, Buena Park Downtown, and Los Cerritos Center. GCHope is so grateful for the growth in support to end hunger in Orange County through these partnerships.
Info on Tackling Child Hunger: gchope.org/tackling-hunger
WGYB Stewardship Update
Value of food distributed last year: $1,592,000
Fundraising goal this year: $209,880
Amount raised thus far: $14,000
GCHope’s greatest desire for those who hear the story of a child we serve is that they would desire to become part of that story. Wilshire Avenue Community Church in Fullerton has become a large part of many children’s stories in recent months.
GCHope was first introduced to Wilshire Avenue in February and they have shown us what love in action really looks like. Within two months of hearing about WGYB, Wilshire Avenue adopted Richmond Elementary and began backpack distribution at the school. Wilshire Avenue picks up food from GCHope, packs it and then prays over it with their volunteers and delivers it to the families.
As if adopting a school wasn’t enough, Wilshire Avenue’s involvement expanded when they took on the project to help build and maintain GCHope’s aquaponic garden. Volunteers of all ages and different skill sets joined together in this project.
Wilshire Avenue’s heart for others is reaching those in the city of Fullerton, but also touching lives in places like Guatemala. GCHope was thrilled to help further Wilshire Avenue’s vision to serve by supplying a missions team with medical and prenatal supplies in June. Wilshire Avenue has an incredible heart for loving others and GCHope is humbled by this transformative partnership that truly is making a difference to so many lives.
“We’re not the ones treating patients in the Philippines but we are supplying the hospitals who do. We don’t build wells but we send shovels to those who are. That’s the type of organization GCHope is – one that believes in the mission of serving the poor and helps equip those who serve well. Instead of believing that we know best about a person’s situation or what can help them overcome poverty, we partner with groups who are on the front lines of the greatest needs and we do our best to support their needs no matter how large or small they may be. The order on GCHope’s plate right now is providing hope for homeless youth in Orange County.” ED Sean Lawrence shared these thoughts and goals with concert-goers from a candlelit stage at GCHope’s benefit concert on Saturday, Sept 13.
Joel and Scott Owen, otherwise known as the PawnShop kings, and former The Voice contestant Trevor Davis played this weekend to help GCHope Tackle Child Hunger in Orange County. PawnShop kings have been a great friend to the organization and have a passion to help vulnerable children.
“For whatever reason a parent struggles to provide, be it from debilitating drug dependence to unavoidable bad luck, as fathers ourselves, it breaks our hearts to know that there are children suffering and/or falling behind as a result,” said Joel Owen. It makes supporting the vision of GCHope an easy answer. Not only are there needs in every other part of the world, but here, locally, spread across even our own county. We feel privileged to stand beside this movement in any way we can.”
The concert was held as part of GCHope’s campaign, Tackling Child Hunger in Orange County. All proceeds went to support the homeless children in GCHope’s We’ve Got Your Back (WGYB) program, which provides meals for 5,000 homeless people every single week. The concert was a huge success and raised over $2,000! There were close to 120 people in attendance from all over Orange County to be part of the solution for these deserving kids. GCHope also showcased our new aquaponic garden, which will be producing 150 lbs. of fresh fruits and vegetables each month for the WGYB food program.The entire evening was a blast and included a photo booth, food, drinks, and a raffle.
Thank you to all the vendors that helped make the event so successful: PawnShop Kings, Trevor Davis, The Robbin’s Nest Wine Bar, Paris Baguette, A’roma Ristorante, Bootleggers Brewery, and E2G2.
To help tackle child hunger in Orange County donate here.
It’s the time of the year that makes me want to have a bouquet of sharpened pencils on my desk and a new outfit to wear for the first day of school. For many of the families in GCHope’s We’ve Got Your Back (WGYB) program, back-to-school items are hard to fit into a tight budget. GCHope decided to do a little extra something to help out.
Recently GCHope was blessed with enough brand new school supplies to provide two of our WGYB schools with a wonderful gift. It was a complete surprise to the families; when they arrived to pick up their regular backpack of food, they found out they were being given some lovely gifts. Each child in the family was given a dazzling new backpack with notebooks, folders, pencils, erasers, rulers and more. In addition to the school supplies, parents received a care package with hygiene products, including toothpaste, hand sanitizer, shampoo, soap, tupperware and a few other household items.
When the mothers heard what their children were receiving, one could not help but notice the sincerity in their eyes when they said, “Thank you.” These parents had such gratitude that their children were being provided for and would have these things to start the school year off well. The kids had a blast getting to pick the red backpack or the pink notebook, explaining how excited they were to take it with them on their first day of school. GCHope is so grateful that we were able to supply these kids with a bit of joy and pride as they step through the door of their new class and new school year. Restoring dignity in people’s lives once again is something we strive for everyday at GCHope.