12 Days of KKOOM – Day 12 – That’s a Wrap!

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Dec 262016
 
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

Well, it’s already Day 12 of our 12 Days of KKOOM blog series. We hope you’ve enjoyed all of the posts. Whether you’ve been a KKOOM supporter for years or just stumbled across this page today, we hope you can get a sense of how regular people, like you, help make life better for Korean orphans in a variety of ways throughout the year. We invite you to contact us to learn more about our work and encourage you to consider making a year-end donation so we can continue the things we wrote about for the past 12 days in 2017.

Before you go, please check out a video compilation of photos from our 2016 KKOOM Christmas Party at Samsungwon in Gumi, South Korea.

In case you missed any of the previous posts, here are direct links to go back and check them out.

Day 1 – Holiday Giving Kick-off
Day 2 – Summer Fun
Day 3 – Lucky to Be Where You Want to Be for The Holidays!
Day 4 – Samsungwon Christmas Party
Day 5 – Welcome Boost Program
Day 6 – Arts and Crafts Camp
Day 7 – Preschool Program
Day 8 – College Scholarship Program
Day 9 – Children’s Day in Korea
Day 10 – A Special Day with Special Children
Day 11 – Christmas Celebration with Emmanuel Children’s Home

Thank you! May you have a fabulous year-end and an even better 2017! See you in the New Year!

 Posted by at 5:46 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 11 – Christmas Celebration with Emmanuel Children’s Home

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Dec 252016
 

Christmas Celebration at Emmanuel Children's HomeKKOOM celebrated Christmas with the 93 children at Emmanuel Children’s Home in Gimcheon, South Korea this month by providing the opportunity for each child to buy a Christmas gift of their choosing at a local superstore. KKOOM gave each child a gift certificate, and the children went to the store with their house parents to pick out their presents. As you can see from the pictures, the children had a great time.

Additionally, on December 18, KKOOM Board members, Aimee Jachym and Bill Downey, joined the children’s weekly church service and then treated all of the children to a delicious duck barbecue lunch across the street from the children’s home for the third year in a row. The kids all enjoyed the meal, as they got to grill meat (which is always fun for them) and eat to their hearts content.

Emmanuel kids go shopping for their own presents with gift certificates from KKOOM

For us, it was a fun day and good to see all of the kids’ smiling faces and hear about their shopping excursion. We were glad to be able to bring a little holiday cheer to these 93 special kids, thanks to the generous support of KKOOM donors.

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

 Posted by at 7:46 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 10 – A Special Day with Special Children

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Dec 232016
 
Lunch with Children from Aemangwon, an orphanage for special needs children in Daegu, South Korea

Lunch with Children from Aemangwon, an orphanage for special needs children in Daegu, South Korea

Orphans with special needs are among the most wanting of attention and love this holiday season, and KKOOM was happy to be able to make today special for a few such children. Today we took six children from Aemangwon, an orphanage home for kids with special needs, in Daegu, South Korea to a nearby department store for an afternoon of lunch and shopping. We became connected with Aemangwon because of Minho, a child with special needs who lives there. You can read more about Minho in our previous blog posts here.

Except for Minho, who we also spent time with today, the children we took on this field trip today are wheelchair-bound and are rarely able to leave the orphanage home due to the challenge of transporting them in groups.  As such, they are home-schooled at the orphanage by teachers who come to teach classes, and they do not get to participate in field trips or other outings like “normal” children. For these children, an outing happens only two or three times a year and requires the assistance of one adult per child because the children do not have full control of their upper bodies to maneuver their own wheelchairs.

At the department store, we ate at a buffet restaurant, where the kids could eat as much of a variety of foods as they desired. For some, just getting to look at the variety of foods was a joy. You could tell that simply being in a restaurant and getting to do a “regular” activity like eat in public was novel and fun for these kids.

In addition to physical challenges, all of the children have varying degrees of speech difficulties, so communication was a little bit of a challenge at first. “Yes no” questions and body language, though, eventually worked just fine, and the kids quickly became eager to ask for refills of this and that and to try certain foods.

After a long leisurely lunch, we took the kids shopping for Christmas presents. One child wanted comic books, another wanted athletic shoes, another a jacket. One child couldn’t decide what he wanted — and is still thinking about it — so we promised to follow back up soon and get what he wants after he lets us know.

Today wasn’t an expensive day for us at KKOOM — we spent around $500 on this event — but for these children, we made memories that will last the whole year over. With your support, we will be able to make even more special memories for these wheelchair-bound kids at Aemangwon in 2017. We’ve already promised to return. If you’d like to make a year-end contribution to help fund our next visit, you can do so by clicking the “donate” button at the top right of this page. As always, thank you for your support!

 Posted by at 6:54 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 9 – Children’s Day in Korea

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Dec 222016
 
Kids at Samsungwon receive their presents on Children's Day, May 5, 2016

Kids at Samsungwon receive their presents on Children’s Day, May 5, 2016

Children’s Day is a national holiday in Korea on May 5, and kids and adults alike have the day off from school and work. Families spend time together and parents treat their children to special meals and presents to mark the day.

For children in orphanages, however, Children’s Day can be a sad reminder of the “typical” lives they don’t get to lead. At KKOOM, however, we try to help give these children “normal” experiences by celebrating holidays with them and providing personalized gifts that do not fit in the standard government-supported orphanage budget.

This year, we enlisted the help of a retired house mom who worked at an orphanage for more than 30 years to buy individual presents for each child at one orphanage on Children’s Day. The children submitted their wish lists, and like Santa Claus, the retired house mom meticulously went store to store and purchased gifts for each child. You can read more about Children’s Day and how we made that day special for kids, thanks to KKOOM supporters, in a previous post here.

If you’d like to help us continue to make lives a little more normal for kids in Korean orphanages, we invite you to make a year end contribution here on our website. Thank you for your support!

 Posted by at 6:24 am
Dec 212016
 
Some of the KKOOM College Scholarship Recipients since 2011

Some of the KKOOM College Scholarship Recipients since 2011

We started the KKOOM College Scholarship Program five years ago to help make going to college a little easier for Korean orphans. To date we have supported 14 students in their studies, and 12 have successfully either completed their degrees or are making good progress toward graduation.

The first student we supported in 2012, Jindong, is now set to graduate in the winter and will enter the workforce immediately next year. He landed a dream job in Seoul at SK, one of Korea’s largest and most admired companies. Competition for prized jobs is fierce among college seniors, so despite Jindong’s strong grades and outstanding credentials, the odds were not in his favor to get a job at a major company. Yet, he did very well on both the written examinations and in-person interviews and was actually offered two jobs — one at Samsung Card and one at SK. We are very proud of Jindong and all of his achievements and look forward to following his success as he enters the working world.

Other KKOOM college scholarship recipients are also doing well. One young adult owns her own hair salon. It is small but successful, and she enjoys being in charge of her own affairs and clients. Another is pursuing a managerial career at a national chain restaurant. Another former student is working at a Samsung Electronics customer service center, where he fixes broken cell phones that people bring in. Recently, another got married and is working as a nurse in a nearby town.

The paths the KKOOM college scholarship recipients have taken are certainly diverse, but they are overwhelmingly successful, especially in comparison to the average young adult who ages out of an orphanage home without a college education. By encouraging young adults to consider going to college and supporting their financial expenses, we hope that the current college students can serve as role models for their younger “brothers and sisters” who look up to them in the orphanage homes.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our College Scholarship Program, you can check out previous blog posts here. We hope you will consider supporting our work by making a year-end donation so that we can help even more students go to college. As always, we appreciate your support.

 Posted by at 6:54 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 7 – Preschool Program

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Dec 202016
 

The 10 toddlers we’ve helped attend preschool as 2 and 3 year olds since 2011.

For the past 5 years, KKOOM has helped 2 and 3 year old toddlers at an orphanage in Korea go to preschool, a full two years earlier than they would otherwise be able to attend with the governmental support provided. To date, we have given 10 toddlers the opportunity to gain early access to preschool education, the oldest of which is now in 2nd grade.

Intuitively we know that kids who go to preschool do better in school and are more successful in life, and by sending these 10 children to preschool with KKOOM support, we’ve helped these orphan toddlers overcome an important hurdle to their educational success. We’re eager to see how life unfolds for all of them. We won’t be surprised if we one day have our first preschool-support-turned college scholarship recipient.

To find out more about our preschool program, check out our previous posts here. If you’d like to support this work and help more Korean toddler orphans go to preschool next year, please consider making a year-end donation. Thank you!

 Posted by at 6:48 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 6 – Arts and Crafts Camp

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Dec 192016
 

This winter, from Jan. 16-20, KKOOM will be sending 10 elementary school girls to Arts and Crafts Camp in Seoul. The girls are from two orphanages in Gyeongbuk Province, which is about a 3-hour train ride away from Seoul.

The Camp is run by Jerusalem Ministry, a Seoul-based organization that helps orphans. KKOOM  has worked with Jerusalem Ministry for several years, but this is the first time wewill be sending students to attend one of their camps. KKOOM will cover the girls’ transportation, room and board, evening sightseeing and other out-of-pocket expenses. Jerusalem Ministry provides support for all of the Camp and daytime activity expenses.

The girls will stay in an Airbnb rental house in Seoul along with a chaperone from each orphanage home. During the day, they’ll attend the Camp with other girls from Seoul-area orphanage homes, and in the evening, they’ll get a chance to experience the vibrancy of South Korea’s largest city. The total KKOOM support will cost about $400 per camper, but we know that the expense will be well worth it. Travel and new experiences are among the greatest gifts we can give and the memories of such surely outlast the shelf life of most material goods.

Check out this video from last year’s Arts & Crafts Camp to see what a great experience it will be.

If you’d like to help KKOOM send these 10 girls to Camp this winter, please consider making a year-end gift to KKOOM. You can write “Arts and Crafts Camp” in the comments section on the checkout page, and we’ll direct your gift to support the girls’ expenses for the Camp. Thank you for your support!

 Posted by at 8:16 am

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