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

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