12 Days of KKOOM – Day 5 – Welcome Boost Program

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Dec 182016

A 5-year-old recipient of Welcome Boost funds poses in a new sweater purchased with KKOOM support.

This year we launched the “Welcome Boost” Program to provide funds to purchase clothes and basic necessities for children who arrive at orphanages with almost nothing, sometimes just the clothes on their backs. To date, we have provided 150,000 won (about $125USD) for six children.

The most recent recipient of Welcome Boost funds is a 5-year-old girl who arrived at the orphanage late this fall. She was discovered living with her mother, who has an intellectual disability, in a house that was described as a pile of trash. While these circumstances are extremely unfortunate, she is now living in a healthier (and much cleaner) environment at the orphanage home and has been adjusting well so far.

She celebrates her birthday with the girls in her house.

Her house mom at the orphanage used the Welcome Boost funds to buy her winter clothes, including a warm coat, hat and gloves. New clothes helped make her transition in her new life a little easier. She now has nice clothes to wear to her new preschool, and she can take pride in showing off her cute smile, as above. Recently, she also celebrated her birthday with her house family, as you can see at right.

While the circumstances that bring children to the orphanage are heartbreaking, thanks to your support, we’re able to make the adjustment a little easier by providing for their basic needs. If you’d like to help us continue this work, please consider making a year-end donation by clicking the “donate” button at the top right of this page. To find out more about the Welcome Boost Program, please check out our earlier posts here and here.

 Posted by at 7:40 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 4 – Samsungwon Christmas Party

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Dec 172016
The kids at Samsungwon Orphanage in Gumi had a great time at the 2016 KKOOM Christmas Party

The kids at Samsungwon Orphanage in Gumi had a great time at the 2016 KKOOM Christmas Party

Today, we hosted the annual KKOOM Christmas Party at Samsungwon. About 25 volunteers and joined the 55 children at Samsungwon for an afternoon and evening of games, activities and lots of food. We’ll post more pictures later, but for now, we invite you to check out our Facebook page for video from the event. Here are the Facebook Live video links: [1] [2] [3]  Enjoy!

 Posted by at 8:16 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 3 – Lucky to Be Where You Want to Be for The Holidays!

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Dec 162016

Some of the Gumi kids at last year’s KKOOM Christmas party

By Bill Downey, KKOOM Volunteer & Board MemberBill has traveled to Korea and his own expense multiple times for the past two years to volunteer with KKOOM and help kids in Korean orphanages have brighter and better futures. In the post below, he shares some of his reflections on the holidays and his early memories as a soldier stationed in Korea in the late 1970s.

I find myself traveling to the Korean peninsula for the second year in a row to spend the holidays in Gumi with kids that for the most part do not have a family holiday tradition to enjoy.  For some of the children that have been at the orphanage in Gumi for a long time, KKOOM is their holiday tradition.

Growing up, I was lucky in that no matter how hard a year our family may have had financially, our parents made sure the magic and joy of Christmas was always with us.   My sisters and I had gifts and special traditions to enjoy year after year and we knew that our Christmases were special and we cherished them.

Much of my young adult life was spent in the military, and I was often not where I wanted to be for the holidays or any other special occasion you may care to name.  I can honestly say that it was the memory of those wonderful childhood Christmases that sustained me, not only through my military career but long into this time and place I call “now.”

I do have a very special memory of my first Christmas in Korea all those many years ago.  The children from the local orphanage came to our camp to give us a Christmas show at our recreation center.  They did all of the standard Christmas carols, all in English, and performed some small holiday skits and other things that memory does not permit me to recall right now.  We provided gifts and refreshments to complete the holiday celebration.

One of their caretakers commented that the children had prepared for months to give us this special show, and I can say that their hard work payed off as they gave us such a wonderful evening.  As a young soldier, it took everything I had inside of me to not openly cry over the Christmas gift those children gave to us.  Children who had so little for themselves were able to share their love with us and bring holiday cheer to a lot of really lonely soldiers, many away from home for the holidays for the first time.

This memory has come back to me many times over the years, and it came to me the day I left Korea a few years later on a new assignment.  As Seoul’s Kimpo airport disappeared under the clouds, I thought about that first Christmas show and I felt that I should have done so much more for those kids.  In knowing that, I hoped that one day I would have a chance to do something more for them.

All of those children, like me, have seen many days pass since then.  But I never forgot them, and I like to think that it was their goodwill to us that somehow sustained this latent desire to return and fulfill my wish to give something back.

Wherever you are and whoever you are with, I hope you will find special meaning in the holidays past and present. Merry Christmas!

If you’d like to help KKOOM continue to host holiday and other events at orphanages in Korea, you can do so by making a year-end gift of any size by clicking the “donate” button at the top right of your screen. Donations of $35 or more by December 31, 2016 will be acknowledged with a picture and card from a child in whose honor the donation is given. Thank you!

 Posted by at 7:28 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 2 – Summer Fun

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Dec 152016

[Throwback Thursday] This summer kids at Samsungwon orphanage in Korea had a great time at Everland and Carribbean Bay, an amusement and water park south of Seoul. Thanks to our supporters, the kids got there and back – a three-hour trip each way – safely on buses provided with KKOOM funds, and they also had new swimsuits and water shoes as a result of a special fundraising campaign we held this summer.

Shortly thereafter, we took these same kids camping at a river valley about an hour away from their orphanage home, and they had a good time playing games and enjoying the outdoors. Read more at our original posts here and here.

If you’d like to help KKOOM continue this work in 2017, please consider making a year-end donation by clicking the “donate” button at the top right of this page. Thank you!

 Posted by at 7:08 am
Dec 142016

KKOOM’s Holiday Giving Campaign begins today with our first of twelve posts — the 12 Days of KKOOM. You can help by clicking the donate button (at the top right of this page) and making a US tax-deductible donation of any size!

The first $5,000 raised will go to purchase Christmas gifts for children in orphanage homes in Gumi and Gimcheon, South Korea and help put on holiday parties at both homes. (Many gifts will be purchased directly by generous volunteers in Korea, but several children’s gifts will be purchased with KKOOM funds.) Donations collected over and above our goal will go in our general fund so we can help kids all year long.

If you donate $35 or more before December 31, 2016, you will receive a picture of and a card from a child in whose honor your gift is given. We’ll also send pictures and cards to our regular monthly donors as well as anyone who signs up to give a recurring monthly gift of any size.

We’re so grateful that you’re interested in helping us improve the lives of Korean orphans, and over the next 12 days, we look forward to telling you more about our work and recapping our highlights from 2016. If you’re ready to support our work this holiday season, please donate now! If you have questions, please contact us at your convenience.

We’d also be appreciative if you took a minute to “like us” on Facebook or let your family and friends know what we are doing. Thank you so much for helping us make 2016 a brighter year for hundreds of kids living in Korean orphanages.

 Posted by at 8:36 am

Welcome Boost Program: New clothes for a young boy

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Oct 302016
Through the Welcome Boost Program, KKOOM provided new clothes for a boy at a Korean orphanage

Through the Welcome Boost Program, KKOOM provided new clothes for a boy at a Korean orphanage

Through the Welcome Boost Program, which we launched earlier this year, KKOOM provided funding to buy new clothes for a 10-year-old boy at an orphanage in Korea. The fourth grader, J.W., came to the orphanage after his father was reported for child abuse. J.W. arrived with only the clothes he was wearing. The orphanage bought J.W. a couple of outfits, but obviously he needed more to wear to school.

KKOOM gave J.W.’s house mother at the orphanage 150,000 won (approx. $135 USD) to purchase clothes for him.  They went to the store together and picked out several new outfits, as shown in the picture. J.W.’s house mother sent us the pictures you see, along with the receipt for the purchase. This is a process we follow for all of our programs in Korea so that we can ensure accountability for how donations are used.

It looks like J.W. was pleased with his new clothes. J.W.’s house mother says that he is a good student, getting top marks at school. She hopes that he can get used to life at Samsungwon and continue his academic success. She also sincerely thanks KKOOM supporters for providing the funding to help J.W.’s adjustment a little easier.


 Posted by at 8:13 pm

Fall Preschool Atendees

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Oct 282016

This fall we have two 2-year-old toddlers, J.H. and S.H., attending preschool with KKOOM’s support. We asked their orphanage house mothers to tell us a little about them and comment on how going to preschool has had an impact on their lives. Here’s what the house moms had to say.

J.H., age 2, enjoys going to preschool.

J.H., age 2, is a playful and curious little boy.

J.H. has a bright and charming personality. He is playful and generally healthy. He has a lot of curiosity, shows a few signs of greediness and is also surprisingly easily scared. Going to preschool has helped J.H. meet a lot of new friends his age, and he is no longer bored. He has been able to have a lot of new experiences and is also learning life skills and rules, which are helpful for his development. J.H. especially likes music and dancing. He is also a good eater and likes to copy what his older house brothers do, mimicing their actions. I’m very thankful to KKOOM’s supporters for giving J.H. the opportunity to attend preschool.

S.H., age 2, has learned and grown a lot since starting preschool.

S.H., age 2, has learned and grown a lot since starting preschool.

S.H. is introverted, but he is also bright and kind. S.H. was neglected prior to coming to our home, and unfortunately, he still shows signs of that abuse. However, attending preschool has helped him get better. For instance, S.H. had severe separation anxiety, but going to preschool has helped him get used to others and make friends with other toddlers his age. He also suffered from a lack of affection prior to coming to our home, but attending preschool has helped him by receiving a lot of attention from his teachers and other friends there. When he is with his other house brothers, S.H. is docile and likes to play. He especially likes looking at picture books with animals and foods. He also likes music and singing songs. I can honestly say that S.H. has improved quite a bit by the opportunity KKOOM has given him to go to preschool, and I think he will continue to do even better in the future. Thank you.

As you can see, your support is making a lasting impact on the these two children’s lives by enabling them to attend preschool two years earlier than they would otherwise be able to go. We hope that you will consider continuing to support our work in the future so we can help even more toddlers gain access to early childhood educational opportunities.

 Posted by at 12:38 am

Fall 2016 KKOOM Scholarship Recipients

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Oct 052016
KKOOM College Scholarship for Korean Orphans

(Top row, L to R) Eunbi, Mingyu, Yeonhwa, (bottom row) Jindong, Sukyeong

This semester KKOOM is proud to provide support to five college students in South Korea, all of whom grew up at Samsungwon, an orphanage in Gumi. We asked them all to give a brief update on how they’re doing and what they hope to accomplish this semester and in the near future. Read on to see what they had to say.

Eunbi, 2nd year at Gumi College, Major: Childcare.  Last semester, Eunbi served as a representative from her major to her college’s student council.  She said it was a good experience to learn about the school’s activities and be part of making small improvements to the college. During her summer vacation, she worked at a preschool, studied English and prepared for her licensing exam. This is Eunbi’s last semester before graduation, so she hopes to make the most of her remaining time and enjoy what is left of her college days. Finally, Eunbi says thank you to all of the KKOOM supporters who made her scholarship possible. She hopes to be able to give back to others in a similar fashion one day.

Mingyu, 1st year at Gumi College, Major: Hospitality and Cooking.  We’re proud to report that Mingyu had the best grades in his class during his first semester. He says he is still learning to master his knife skills, which are crucial to his dream of becoming a chef or baker. Mingyu hopes to be able to study and work abroad someday, perhaps in a bakery or dessert cafe.

Yeonhwa, 1st year at Yeungjin College, Major: Business Management.  After spending a year working at a travel agency, Yeonhwa decided to enter college this March, and she is a first time scholarship recipient this semester. She continues to work full-time while she goes to school, and her first semester, she maintained an “A” average. Yeonhwa would like to start her own business one day. She knows that it won’t be easy, but she is up for the challenge and believes her business classes will surely help her in the future. In her free time, Yeonhwa enjoys traveling and photography. She says that taking pictures helps her experience things in new and refreshing ways.

Sukyeong, 2nd year at Gumi College, Major: Dental HygieneLast semester, Sukyeong had an internship as a hygenist at a dentist’s office where she learned a lot and received praise for a job well done. Classes have not been easy for her, but Sukyeong has worked hard to improve her grades. While the KKOOM scholarship’s financial support is obviously helpful, Sukyeong says that just knowing that people support her is equally as important. She says that she will do her best to become a successful adult and be able to give back to others.

Jindong, 4th year at Pusan National University, Major: Business Administration.  As we reported previously, Jindong landed a coveted internship at Samsung Card over the summer. He says that it was hard to focus on classes while he was applying for internships, but he is happy that his hard work paid off.  This is Jindong’s last semester in college, so he is now busy preparing job applications. He will find out if he gets a job offer from Samsung Card later this fall, but in the meantime, he is also applying to similar companies. Over the years, Jindong has given KKOOM great advice about how to help others like him, and he hopes that KKOOM can continue to help inspire and support the dreams of other kids who grow up in Korean orphanages. Finally, Jindong says, “KKOOM has been a great help to my college experience, and I am truly grateful for all of the support!

 Posted by at 6:03 am

Summer Water Park and Camping Fun

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Sep 102016

Korean orphans volunteer orphanage dontate

The Samsungwon family had a wonderful summer thanks to your support!

Well, the kids at Samsungwon, an orphanage in Gumi, South Korea, are all back in school now, but the summer was sure a memorable one. It was one of the hottest summers in recent history here in Korea, but thanks to your help, KKOOM was able to help keep the children cool by sending them on two different overnight trips.

In late July, the children went to to Caribbean Bay and Everland, a large water and amusement park famous here in Korea. The kids enjoyed the water park on the first day and the amusement park the next day. There were plenty of fun activities for all. KKOOM funds provided the round-trip bus transportation and also purchased swimming suits, life jackets, tubes and water shoes. A big thanks, especially, to those who helped by contributing to our special summer fundraising campaign to support these activities.

Korean orphans volunteer orphanage dontate

The Samsungwon children had a wonderful time at this summer’s overnight trips. In addition to the kids have a good time, pictured here are life vests and swim suits that KKOOM provided for the trips.

About a week later, in early August, KKOOM took the children to a nearby valley area for camping, swimming, and team building activities. KKOOM was joined by local volunteers from a Gumi church and a Gumi company, including some young adults who grew up at Samsungwon themselves.

KKOOM funds paid for the food, supplies and some transportation with additional support provided by the local volunteers. On the first day, the kids played in the cool valley river waters and enjoyed a delicious Korean barbecue in the evening. It was heartwarming to see the older kids play with the younger ones and look after them to make sure everyone stayed safe and had a good time. At night, the youngest children returned to Samsungwon.

Korean orphans volunteer orphanage dontate

The kids show off their new swimsuits and water shoes in anticipation of going on their summer field trips.



The older kids (6th grade and up) stayed overnight for 2 more days and participated in team building and leadership games that had an Olympics theme. The teams were named after countries the team captains chose: Republic of Korea, USA, Sweden, Greece and France. The “events” included sports games, both in and out of the water, a talent show, photo and nature scavenger hunt, a trivia puzzle, and more. The teams also had  mentoring sessions with some of the local adult volunteers to discuss their future goals and plans.

Korean orphans volunteer orphanage dontate

The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves at camp and can’t wait for next summer.

One of the highlights of the camping trip was the bonfire on the last night, where the kids got to roast marshmallows and try s’mores for the first time.  Another highlight of the trip, according to the kids, was the endless provision of delicious food, which included pizza, fried chicken, ramen noodles and ice cream for snacks along with hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner on the second night. The kids said they had a great time, and asked whether they would like to go again next year, they responded with a resounding “yes”.

Helping kids who live in Korean orphanages have normal, fun summer experiences is just one of the things KKOOM is doing to help improve the lives of Korean orphans. We wouldn’t be able to do this important work without your help, and for that, we’re immensely grateful for your continued support.

 Posted by at 1:44 am

The Quiet Routine of Helping

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Aug 252016

korean vacation!By Bill Downey, Board Member ~ I have just completed my second trip to Korea this year and plan to return in December for the holidays. It was very hot and humid, not unusual for the Korean peninsula this time of year, but you can always hope it will be cooler. That was not to be the case, as it remained stubbornly in the 90s for most of my 10-day visit.

KKOOM participated in and supported a three-day camping trip with the kids from Samsungwon in Gumi to a local area in the mountains. The main attraction was a stream that runs through the mountains with some modest cabin-type facilities overlooking the water. It was a nice break for the kids, and they really enjoyed the chance to cool off in the cold water and escape the oppressive heat of the city. The preschool and elementary school children made a day trip, and the older kids stayede for two nights.

My main duties were to take some images and video of the kids and help with logistic support. KKOOM hosted an American style BBQ the second evening. I volunteered to get most of the stuff for the BBQ which entailed which set off a flurry of trips to stores to get everything from paper plates to hotdo gs and hamburgers. After several days of shopping, we were in good shape to hold a successful American BBQ! The BBQ was topped off with a s’mores demonstration by Aimee and the kids then joined in to make their own. I am not sure if the cultural nuances of s’mores and camping got through but we can work on that!

Jerusalem Ministry holds an annual, three-day soccer camp for the boys in orphanages in the Seoul area. I stay at the U.S. Army garrison in Yongsan and the hotel is just across from one of the soccer fields they use for the camp. I stopped by last year and this year I was happy to provide a bit of support to them by moving volunteers and boys for lunch on two of the days of camp. It was also nice to reinforce and build on relationships with the dedicated staff from Jerusalem Ministry. We hope to have some boys participate next year and have some of our girls participate in their arts and crafts camp in January.

This was my sixth trip to Korea in three years and if someone were to ask me what my trips are like, I would say that I spend a great deal of time shopping and driving. I think that all endeavors find their natural path and that seems to be true for me and my visits. Helping to get things and bring them to the kids makes me feel useful and that in a small way, I am helping them out. I am a board member of KKOOM, but when I am in Korea, I am a volunteer. There is nothing glamorous or exciting about what I do, nor do the things I do require special skills. It just requires a desire to do the things that need to be done to support the activities we are involved in with the kids. Maybe more importantly, it demonstrates to the kids my commitment to them.

I will be back in Korea in December to participate in my second holiday event and I suspect I will be doing lots of driving and shopping!

 Posted by at 3:03 am