Meniscus-Marais bag giveaway winners share charity stories

At the start of 2011, Meniscus Magazine partnered with Marais Designs to ask readers how they gave back this past holiday season.  We want to thank everyone for entering the contest as it was a difficult choice to narrow down the entries.  Three winners – Rolly Nunez, Syl Tang and Elaine Claire B. Chua – shared their stories of volunteerism and community service, and each received a handbag courtesy of Marais.  Their winning stories follow below.

Through faith, work and life: charity at every step

Last holiday season, I personally experienced the best from both worlds.  I was hired by a new utility company last March and as a result, many blessings showered upon my family.  To give back, I joined every outreach program that our company takes part in.

I envisioned 2010 as a year to help others. How? I patterned my charitable works to the activities of our company. We launched two medical and dental missions last half of the year. We provided electricity to a church; fed malnourished children; conducted proper cleaning of the teeth, gums and tongue; distributed several food packages to more than 400 families from two distinct barangays (districts); and, as a result, an open forum began between us and the people whom we reached.

I am also proud to say that my church takes part in several programs that promote the well-being of other people. Just to name a few: free medical and dental consultations, free legal assistance, free schooling for less fortunate but deserving students, and teaching the word of God.  Gratitude from these people sets our spirits free; even a smile from a child suffering from a disease eases my worries and the pain of my past problems.  It is a blessing from above – not to satisfy your desires and wants, but to satisfy the smile of what you are willing to give.

Rolly Nunez
Muntinlupa City, Philippines

Note: The bag will also serve as a gift to my Mom for her birthday later this month.

A creative way to give back

Sometimes after the initial coverage of a world disaster, people forget that those affected by the experience might have to live the aftermath for the rest of their lives. Such is the case with children.

In 2010, my family pooled money we’d otherwise spend on Christmas and gave a donation to take care of 32 orphans in Sichuan, China. A monastery there had provided shelter to children after the earthquake the previous spring in the hopes of finding their parents, but some 32 turned out to be orphans.

My mom, who used to work for the United Nations, was introduced to the monastery by a well-known journalist in China. I had intended to fix a well-worn sweater that my dad loved by taking it to a re-weaver but it turned out that it was beyond repair.  So, as a joke, my brother and I photocopied a good part of the sweater, taped the piece of paper over the hole and put it in a gift box for my dad along with an envelope of the money we would otherwise have spent to be sent to the orphans. It costs US$150 to reweave a sweater but just $3 a year to feed a child. What’s another sweater to us when it could be feeding a child for years?

The Marais bags are lovely but, more importantly, if you have the chance to donate to Unicef.org or to Zigen.org – both charities focused on forgotten children – I would be grateful.

Syl Tang
New York, N.Y., USA

Outreach to the young and old

Last December, our team organized an outreach program for less fortunate children in Antipolo, the Philippines. We give their families some goods, including rice, as well as toys to the children. We also prepared some games for the children and gave them food to eat afterwards. After the program, I could see in their eyes the happiness they are experiencing. I feel very blessed that in our own little way, we were able to help those kids smile and feel the spirit of Christmas.

Another outreach program that I joined was “Diwa ng Pasko: Pakain sa mga Pulubi” (this roughly translates to “Christmas: Feed the Lazarus”). The organizers go to different parts of Manila and invite elderly people living on the streets to attend a Christmas party with us so that we can share some blessings.  In addition to a monetary donation, this is my second time to volunteer and help them facilitate the program, and this time I also brought with me my sister to help.  Like the program in Antipolo, we served food and let them participate in games.

I feel fulfilled after those two events because I am able to help the less fortunate. I hope that my blessings will continue into this year so that I can continue to help others in our upcoming outreach programs.

Elaine Claire B. Chua
Pasay City, Philippines

About Meniscus Magazine: Founded in 1994 by a former journalist for CNN and The New York Times, www.meniscuszine.com is an online arts, entertainment and lifestyle magazine specializing in event coverage.  Meniscus features articles and multimedia from a variety of subjects, including film, fashion, technology, sports, travel and Asian Americana.  Past coverage includes the Beijing Summer Olympics; the Pusan (South Korea) International Film Festival; the Sundance Film Festival; New York Fashion Week; London Fashion Week; Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo and the Westminster Dog Show.  Follow Meniscus on Twitter @meniscuszine or become a Facebook fan.