On my first visit a few weeks ago, I was surprised that (at 60 degrees warm,) the children were very eager to get into the pool for their swim tests. In addition, I noticed that every one of the children went swimming in their "street clothes." It didn't seem uncommon to also share a small bath-sized towel among 3 or 4 children. Needless to say, when the first child was done using it, the towel was already mighty wet, so by the time child number 3 or 4 got the towel, well, he might have been better off just "air drying!" Their need is great and the "Out if the Boat Swim" program is ongoing, so when I returned to San Diego, I was inspired to find a way to provide the children with the items they needed for a successful swimming experience.
I began by mentioning my desire to help to every and anyone who would listen. Here in the U.S., most children would not be comfortable wearing a used bathing suit, but I knew the children in the orphanage would be thrilled with anything that even closely fit them, so I hoped perhaps some of my friends would be willing to pass on their own children's gently used/outgrown swim suits, rash guards, trunks, goggles, etc. I work in the public school system and sent an email to the head of our department, asking if she might be willing to pass the word along to my fellow workers in the district, asking for donations. Ask and you shall receive!
Wow, the response was fabulous. In the past week or so, I have been fielding emails and texts from people I've never met. I have had people put donation boxes at their children's schools. Some have taken my request to the next level, using it as a learning opportunity for their own children in the benefit of doing for others what they are unable to do for themselves, by going shopping for a new swim suit and towel to give to a child who is going to learn how to swim for the first time this summer. One of my co-workers went out and bought 18 brand new beach towels to donate, another gave a monetary donation, and countless others have sorted through their children's drawers and closets to donate items with a fair amount of life left in them.
One co-worker suggested I approach the local Boys and Girls club to see if they had anything to donate. A short phone call later, I walked away with 5 "hefty" bags containing their entire unclaimed lost and found! I came home, washed everything and sorted it into bags according to age and gender. Another co-worker suggested stopping by garage/yard sales as they are about to close and ask if they would be willing to donate any clothing that went unsold. In almost every case, folks would rather give it to me for a good cause, than tote it to the local Goodwill store. Besides, I am willing to pack up the items I want myself, saving them the effort.
I have come to realize that people are eager and willing to contribute an a million different ways, but we have to be willing to ask. It was a wonderful feeling to send that first batch of swim suits and towels to the orphanage last week, and I look forward to many more trips with a trunk full of donations. Many of the people I have met told me they will continue to save clothes year-round that can be used at the orphanage. One of the schools has even expressed interest in establishing pen-pals with the children. What a wonderful way to bring the children on the U.S. and Mexican border one step closer. I guess the greater lesson here has been how easy (painless) it is to give if you just put it out there and allow people to give from the heart.
By Donna from San Diego, CA
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You are truly an Angel to those children. Thank God we have people like you!
They will appreciate these things so much! Blessings to you for being such a blessing to them and I am happy they are learning how to swim!
What a heartwarming story! Yes, most people are willing to give, but it takes an Angel like you to get things going.
What a wonderful and gratifying opportunity to help those who need you.
We wish you the best as you enrich your own life while helping these young people and giving others the chance to work with you. You are already blessed with a loving spirit.
I think this is a wonderful thing that you are doing. I have a friend in San Diego who loves dogs, like you do, is divorced, no kids. I will forward your article on to her. Who knows, perhaps you could strike up a friendship.
I would also be interested in perhaps getting my son's small private school involved with being pen pals for these children. All the children in his school are learning Spanish and it would be good for them to get to know some Spanish-speaking children. Contact me at : (eliminate the spaces and just bunch it all together) info at my kamp kegonsa dot com
Sandee from WI
God will bless you for what you are doing for those children. I am sure that your heart is swelling for what you have been able to provide to them with the help of friends. Keep up the good work and God bless you.
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