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Christmas Party at Agdao Market for the Children

As I have written in past articles, we have developed a friendship with the young children at the Agdao Public Market. Most of these children go to public school, but on weekends work at the market selling little bags of Calamansi and assist shoppers carrying their purchases. The money they earn is used for their lunches and cost of school projects. Many of these children might miss meals during the week since their parents can barely support a family.

Public school is free, but there is no free lunch program at most schools. Also all the material for school projects has to be covered by the family. Because of these expenses, many children never attend school.

Even though we usually only have two girls assist us, over time we have gotten to know more of these children. As Christmas approached, Elena and I decided to do something nice for these kids. We talked about giving some of the kid’s gifts, but we also wanted to have a party for them.  One problem we faced is where and how.

At the market there is an area that features small eatery stalls. We found one with room for seating and could provide the usual snack for Filipinos, Pancit Canton. Pancit is like the Chinese food Lo Mein, with noodles, vegetables and pork. We also could purchase bottled soda there and we planned to bring loafs of bread. Snacks high in carbohydrates are usual here.

For gifts Elena went to Chinatown to buy blouses, T-shirts, small toys and candies to give to the children. Elena also purchased gift bags to pack items for easy distribution. One problem we faced was how many of the children could we invite. The market has many of these children and there are many poor beggar kids hanging around the market too. We probably know about ten of these kids, but the market is like a small community and they all know each other. Inviting one could end up with five. Because of budget and available room at the eatery, we decided on twenty children.

On Sunday morning, we went to Agdao for our usual weekly shopping. While there, Elena told the girls we know about the party and that we cannot have more than twenty children since we did not want to hurt the feelings of extras attending and not receiving a gift.

About 11am, we arrived back at the market and some were already waiting. We also had with us two of our nieces to assist with cameras to take photos and video of the party. Then Elena went into the market to find some of the others we know that were still working carrying purchases for a customer. Three little girls I have known were standing by the parked cars looking shy. When I tried to get them to join us, I found out they were Muslim and could not eat the Pancit since it contained pork. We finally got them to join us and at least they could have bread and soda.

Once everyone was seated, all the children stood and did a prayer for the meal. Then the food was brought out and everyone dug in for the feast. All the smiles, joy and full mouths these kids showed made us enjoy the party too. I wondered how often these kids could eat until they were full. Many made sandwiches filled with the noodles and filled their mouths and tummy’s with smiles and joking with each other.

As the party started, I saw this one little girl standing nearby looking so sad that she was not invited. Seeing this cute little girl looking so sad, I had Elena explain to her; even though we do not have, enough presents we wanted her to come and eat with us. The shy smile I received made me happy we did not exclude her.

After the eating was done and most of the food gone, all the kids started singing us Charismas carols. First, as they looked and pointed to us, they sang, “We wish you a Merry Christmas”. Then they sang more carols to us. While they were singing, my two nieces went and retrieved from the car two big bags filled with the gift bags. As the singing finished, Elena gave each child one of the gift bags. As each child received their gift, there were big smiles and big eyes.

At one point, I told the kids, and Elena translated to make sure it was understood, that it was our pleasure giving these children this party in thanks for the friendship they always show me at the market.

As the party broke up, most thanked us and many gave us hugs. A few even gave me a kiss on the cheek. The joy we gave these children to let them know we are happy we have become friends they not forgotten. We also wanted to make sure they had something to enjoy the spirit of giving for this holiday season.

There are many who we never used to assist us, but they always say hello to me. At times when I am waiting for Elena, some will stand with talk and joke to me or just keep me company. Some will sneak up behind me and poke me on the side as they pass by. At times, I feel like the Pied Piper as we walk through the market or to the car with five to ten kids walking with us.

They never ask for anything from us or beg with the usual sob stories. If we can use them at the market, they are paid. However, if not, they still show their friendship to us. Many times, we arrive at the market and cannot find our usual helpers. If I see one of the others, they will travel through the market to find our usual girl.

I hope this is the first of an annual tradition. I was thinking if in the future years, if we get donations, we can have more of these children to attend a party and besides the snack and gifts, maybe we can include a little money so they can pass the Christmas cheer to others in their family.

I hope you enjoy the video and the slide show of the photos we took. The video is long but I hope you enjoy it.

Sorry for the late posing. Had trouble setting it up.

[flv]http://www.americanindavao.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/agdaoxmasparty.flv[/flv]

[flv]http://www.americanindavao.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/agdaoslideshow.flv[/flv]

22 Responses to “Christmas Party at Agdao Market for the Children”

  1. Steve in Davao says:

    Bruce, Hats off to you and Elena for the great Christmas gift you gave these kids.
    GOD works in mysterious ways and today HE worked thru you and your family.
    Sign me up to help next year, both with the arrangements for party and financially.
    Merry Christmas and God Bless.
    Steve in Davao

    • Bruce says:

      Steve,
      I do not know who made us think of it, but it gave us more joy and happiness than I think the kids received. I appreciate your offer and will take you up on it next year. If we get a lot more donations of finances and assistance we can increase the amount of kids and maybe give some money in their gift bags to cover any losses from the work break and to bring extra happiness and joy to their their family for Christmas.

  2. Lonnie Carreau says:

    Is that kid in the blue shirt flipping a double bird?

  3. Evelyn says:

    bruce,what a wonderful heart you have..
    i salute your kindness and big heart to my countrymen..
    u and elena have a place in heaven ..
    bless your souls..
    like steve in davao,sign me up for next year’s xmas dinner..
    i’ll be in charge of the cake..for dessert…
    kudos to you and elena..
    hep hep hooorraayyy

  4. J.C. says:

    Bruse and Elena, No real reason why the young has to go without! Both of you did a good Job!!!!!!!!!!!!!! J.C.

  5. Michael Gantert says:

    Even though I am new reading your website……your idea for an annual Christmas party for the market children was great … when you get it planned let me know and sign me up for some type of donation..!

    • Bruce says:

      Michael,
      Welcome to my humble site. I hope you enjoy the content. I also want to thank you for the offer to help with the finances for the party next year. This morning when we went to Agdao to do our shopping all the kids thanked us with smiles and many of the vendors who had heard about us doing this thanked us too. We also heard a local Bisaya language newspaper put a photo and story on last mondays front page. I am trying to get a copy to display here.

  6. alan cline says:

    Great idea Bruce . There are many ways to give back something to the community and helping children is one of my favorites as well .

    • Bruce says:

      Alan,

      As I have written about many times, I do not like giving to beggars but enjoy helping those trying to help themselves. With the offers of support, next year I hope to make it even bigger.

  7. John Bailey says:

    Hello Bruce my name is John .. I live in Michigan USA ..I have been reading your page for some months now ,and i enjoy it very much , Salamat …..The reason i am writing Bruce is that when i saw your Christmas page and the wonderful video at the Agdao market it brought a big smile to my face ,and also a tear to my eye.So nice to know you are fitting in so nicely in a strange land … I do hope to go to Davao one day … Yes i have been talking with some filipino there …Keep writing so i have something worth reading and maybe one day we will meet in Davao..

    • Bruce says:

      John,

      Thank you for enjoying my site and commenting. As I put in the article and my replies, it was such a wonderful experience. I have gotten offers for donations for next years party so we can have more kids at the party and to improve their gifts.

      Feel free to comment or contact me with any thoughts, questions or comments. I loook foward to meeting you some day and being at your wedding.

  8. Henry says:

    Hi Bruce,

    That’s a wonderful thing you did there. I wish I was there to offer my assistance. Keep up the good work!

    • Bruce says:

      Henry,
      Thank you, as you have seen, Elena and I received as much pleasure or more doing it than the kids at the party. Donations will help and hope it will become an Annual Event that will grow larger each year.

  9. rubie knapp says:

    I read you blog 2 days now its so nice of both of you to do all of this good things for those kids…Its nice to see there faces happy..I’m from Buhangin Davao City too but i got married to a loving and nice man here in Portland,OR i been here for 6 years now and we been blessed with one child she’s almost 4 yrs old..your doing great job keep up the good work..
    rubie knapp

    • Bruce says:

      Rubie,
      Thank you for finding and enjoying my site. I try to write honestly and objectively. I enjoy when Filipinos agree with my views. I hope you will continue to visit and comment. Maybe sometime you might be willing to write a Guest article describing the differences you find moving to the U.S.
      As for the kids at Agdao, as I stated in the article, they are not beggars but kids who should be playing on their weekends have to work selling Calamansi or carrying packages for shoppers to earn money for their lunches, school projects or help assist their families. We have gotten to know many of these kids and enjoy doing nice things and showing them they are appreciated. I am hoping next year, with assistance in support with donations, we hope to increase the number of kids and include in their give bag money to for them to bring the Christmas spirit home too.

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