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

KKOOM College Student Lands Internship at Samsung Card

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Jul 282016
KKOOM Korean orphanage college student

JinDong recently landed a position as a summer intern at Samsung Card in Seoul.

Last summer JinDong had the summer of a lifetime studying English at Boston University and traveling around the U.S. [more] After growing up in an orphanage and studying hard to earn entry into Pusan National University’s competitive business administration major, JinDong took a year off of college to improve his English ability and gain a broader perspective. This year JinDong returned to finish his senior year in college, and he plans to graduate next March.

JinDong spent much of his spring applying for highly coveted summer internships at major companies like Hyundai, SK Telecom and Samsung. We’re thrilled to report that JinDong was hired as an intern at Samsung Card, Korea’s largest credit card company, which is majority owned by Samsung Electronics.

JinDong (top left) discusses his internship at Samsung Card with the KKOOM Board via Skype

JinDong (top left) discusses his internship at Samsung Card with the KKOOM Board via Skype

The volunteer KKOOM Board of Directors recently got to catch up with JinDong over Skype, shortly after his internship began earlier this month. He had just completed a week of orientation at the company headquarters in Seoul and was getting ready for his first day in the marketing department, where he’ll spend about 6 weeks working and learning with 8 other interns. JinDong told us that he was the only intern selected from outside of the Seoul area. The other interns were seniors at prestigious colleges and universities in Seoul, and he seemed a bit in awe of his selection as an intern.

In addition to a salary for his summer work, Samsung Card also provided JinDong with lodging at a nearby business hotel in Seoul, and he also gets to have meals in the company cafeteria (where he says the food is “very delicious”). Thanks to your support, KKOOM was able to provide JinDong with an additional stipend (approximately $500 USD) prior to the start of his internship to help him offset travel expenses and buy clothes (business casual is the dress code), a work backpack and other necessities.

JinDong told us that about half of the interns in his cohort will be given a job offer later in November, and his goal is to be able to get an offer. During the course of the summer, he says, “I want to ask many things about working in the company, working process and how they work.” We have no doubt that he will work very hard, as is his nature. Finally, JinDong said, “I want to thank all of KKOOM’s donors for their support of me. I hope to be able to give back to other children who grew up like I did once I get a job.”

 Posted by at 3:55 am

Help Korean Orphans This Summer

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Jul 272016

Chip in today to help Korean orphans and disadvantaged kids this summer vacation.

Any amount, big or small, will be greatly help the 60 kids at Samsungwon go to a water park and summer camp this summer! Funds will be used to purchase swimsuits, life jackets, water shoes and camp supplies. To give you an idea, here’s what various donation levels will help purchase:

  • $10 – Sunscreen and bug spray
  • $25 – A pair of water shoes and a life jacket
  • $50 – A swim suit and an inner tube
  • $100 – BBQ (hamburgers/hot dogs) and camp fire supplies (s’mores)
  • $500 – One-way transportation to camp

Additional funds over $2,000 raised will go to help pay for additional food and transportation for the trips first and then to the KKOOM General Fund.

Raised 1,690 $ towards the 2,000 $ target.



One of the Samsungwon children relaxes at California Beach

A child plays during a trip to a water park in 2014.

This summer has been extremely hot, seemingly everywhere, and Korea has been no exception. The kids at Samsungwon are looking forward to relieving the heat with an overnight visit to Caribbean Bay, a large water park, and also a three-day camping trip in one of Korea’s cool and majestic valleys. KKOOM will provide the transportation for the trip to the water park and is planning the activities for the camping trip, where the kids will be put in teams to complete activities and engage in friendly competitions. In addition to giving the kids something fun to do during the hot summer vacation, these trips give the kids a chance to develop positive, lasting memories, just like regular kids.

Samsungwon is the orphanage in Gumi, South Korea, where KKOOM and KKOOM’s founders have been volunteering since 2004.

Make a contribution now to help us send kids to summer camp!




 Posted by at 7:57 am

Clean Clothes for Korean Orphans

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Jul 212016
Clean clothes for Korean orphans

Images of an old washing machine at Samsungwon, which shows remnants of mold and wear.

In addition to providing Korean orphans with opportunities for education and fun experiences, KKOOM strives to improve the daily living conditions at the orphanage homes to help ensure the kids can have as normal of an upbringing as possible. In the past, we’ve purchased new furniture for the houses at Samsungwon [more], and last summer we repainted the “orphanage van” to look like a regular van [more].

We recently discovered that some of the washing machines at Samsungwon were covered in mold. No amount of scrubbing could remove it from the inside drums, which is where the children’s laundry was placed, sometimes up to four loads per day. One of the house moms told me that the kids’ clothes were not coming out clean, despite her use of specialty soaps and best attempts to clean the inside of the machine.

I originally discovered this problem when the Samsungwon staff asked if KKOOM might be able to sponsor an industrial-strength professional cleaning of the washing machines in each of the seven Samsungwon houses. After touring the houses and inspecting each machine, I determined that at least two of the washing machines were in poor condition, and professionally cleaning them was unlikely to solve the problem long term. The machines were nearly 10 years old and had been run every day, several times a day. We estimated that they had run nearly 10,000 cycles. It was time for a change!.

New Washing Machine at Samsungwon

Brand New Washing Machines at Samsungwon = Clean Clothes for All!

So this month, KKOOM purchased two brand new, top-of-the-line, large Samsung washing machines and had them delivered and installed at Samsungwon, replacing the two oldest washing machines in the poorest condition. Each machine cost about $650 USD (they were on sale). The house moms now report that the kids’ laundry in those houses is coming out clean. The whites are actually white again! We plan to have the remaining five washing machines that are still in workable condition professionally cleaned this month. Budget-permitting, we plan to examine the need again next year, and if necessary, we hope to be able to upgrade more washing machines at Samsungwon in the future.

Growing up in a “regular” household, I know I didn’t have to worry about whether my washed clothes would be clean and whether they would smell like mold. If our washing machine broke, and I’m sure it did occasionally, my parents were able to have it fixed, and eventually when it was time to be replaced, they bought a new one. I know I took this, and many other luxuries, for granted. But now, as I look back on KKOOM’s work and the things we do big and small, I see our ability to “make life normal” for the kids in Korean orphanages as one of our highest callings and biggest responsibilities.

Actually, before I officially founded KKOOM with a small group of friends, one of my last unofficial acts was using leftover donations from generous individuals to purchase a commercial-grade dishwasher for Samsungwon in the summer of 2007. We did that for the same reason we just bought new washing machines: we wanted life in this Korean orphanage to resemble, even if just in a few small ways, life in an everyday household. Whether it’s clean clothes, a holiday party, or access to early education, this is what KKOOM is all about!

 Posted by at 8:10 pm