The Christmas Spirit: In Partnership with Jeju Furey
The holidays are an amazing time for most of us as we have the opportunity to spend unsolicited time with our family and friends. Around the world, at this time of year, families come together to exchange gifts, share meals, and spend much needed time together.
However, for those who do not have a family, the holidays can be a very lonely time. For children in orphanages, caregivers do an amazing job meeting basic needs but often cannot supply the extras that make the holiday special for children. There are no gifts, special food or family traditions and child may feel forgotten or neglected. Upon their return to school, many orphans are regaled with tales of love and holiday spirit, and these stories must surely compound their sense that they are not completely cared for within the context of a family. As an international community, with families scattered all over the world, we understand this discomfort especially in these covid focused times.
In 2018 we started a new school tradition that has grown from an initiative involving a small group of students. We created Christmas Shoeboxes, which were gifted to children in an orphanage in Busan whilst our Wake the Women in the World service group went on a service trip to this same location. We also delivered some shoeboxes to the Single Mom Center in Aesuhwon.
Following our first year of operation, we decided that we wanted to expand this activity and offer shoeboxes for children in our local Jeju community. We teamed up with the NGO Jeju Furey to do this. Every year at this time, every student class at Branksome (and many staff members) create a Christmas Shoebox. The box contains a ‘wishlist’ item that the children in one of the Jeju orphanages have expressed interest in. This item is supplemented with smaller basic items such as stationary, toiletries and snacks.
This year we are supporting two Jeju orphanages and providing over 100 Christmas Shoeboxes, which is amazing! We have such a kind and supportive community and it is wonderful to see students, parents and staff rally together to make this happen for the children. When you see the wishlist items of some of the children it can be quite sobering. Some young ones have asked for a folding mattress, while others have requested a blanket or some socks. While we have happily provided these items, we have also added some fun items for them too. Everyone should be able to smile at Christmas, even during a global crisis and we hope that our small gift creates a kinder, brighter world for children to live in!
Service Learning Coordinator