10:20 PM

Giving Became Her Best Birthday Gift!

Posted by Prosy Delacruz

“ Beyond a certain point, which we’d reached, money has no further value. It can’t bring happiness, but it can save or transform many lives. “
- Chris Hohn

Chris Hohn established a partnership with the Bill Clinton Foundation to provide antiretroviral medicines to 10,000 children in China, India and several African nations. More than 500,000 children under fifteen were then dying of AIDS each year.

He was barely forty years old when Bill Clinton described Chris, in his book,"Giving," as one who saw children scavenging garbage dumps for food, when he worked in the Philippines. That influenced him to give and transform children’s lives. Chris believes his good fortune was not due to his ability alone, but in part to his circumstances, so he feels he has a “ moral obligation to balance the scale." Chris continues to give, and perhaps is the biggest British-based philanthropist whose latest contribution is half a billion Euros. The magnitude of his fortune is matched by the extent of his compassion in saving children’s lives.

Cherry Ordonez lives far from Chris Holm, separated by an ocean and a continent. Yet, her philosophy coincides with his. “I have a moral obligation to help others, as I have been blessed. “She humbly shares being at the right place at the right time, buying up businesses and then, turning them around. At one time, she owned five salons, a money remittance and balikbayan box business. Currently, she has consolidated her energies to run Cherry’s Salon in Amar/corner Nogales.

When Typhoon Ondoy hit on September 26, Cherry was busy preparing artists for the premiere of “In My Life“, a movie which created such a buzz, because of the comeback of Batangas Governor Vilma Santos.

Instead of celebrating a sold-out premiere and the warmth of fans welcoming their idol stars, folks had long faces, when they heard the news about the worst floods of the century in Manila -- with 286 dead, Php 1.5 billion in property damaged, and hundreds of barangays affected.

Cherry got a facebook message from Eric, her former receptionist who relocated to Manila. She felt his pain, his struggle to rebuild his life, and resolved to solicit goods for him. Her plans were small -- to help Eric and perhaps, other families and to make a provision for a small donation to ABS-CBN Foundation’s Sagip Pamilya.

Instead, she became one of the nerve centers of a hurricane-like pouring of goodwill by kababayans in Southern California.

Her good intentions were matched by others. Jokoy’s friends, Jeff David and Jen Santillan are her long-term customers. They requested to use the back part of her salon to accept relief goods donated by Jokoy’s fan base. Cherry joined in with lots of enthusiasm. She contacted other businesses and freight services.

Carol Yam of Unistar initially gave cases of canned goods. Rick Martin made his own donations as well. Soon, their generosity yielded 400 cases of canned goods.

Cherry and her team of volunteers -- children and adults alike, even the donors-- packed the goods every night and shipped them the next day. All who could be mobilized through her customer base were there.

Cherry, aware of the need for accountability, kept meticulous records. She had sign-in forms for all volunteers. She asked donors to write out their checks directly to ABS-CBN Foundation’s SAGIP Pamilya. Cash donations amounted to $2,015, which includes a check from the Philippine Badminton Club of Arcadia worth $1,800.

103 donors and 53 volunteers managed to send the following:
· 48 food boxes, valued at $34,373.72
· 54 clothes boxes, estimated at $ 5,400
· 4 medicine boxes, donated by physicians, valued at $2,500
· Major donors: Carol Yam of Unistar, Rick Martin of Martin Purefoods, Lito Concepcion
· Major food donations included cases of canned spam, corned beef, bottled water, 30 sacks of 50 lb. rice.

Boxes were shipped daily since October 1, through three generous freight owners: Cargo Link, Mail Plus and LBC Cargo. The donated freight fees amounted to $3,365.

Cherry was in a roller coaster of emotions each day, for after packing the whole evening, and a full day of tending to her customer’s needs, she found herself too tired to continue, and wanting to stop. But, she could not.

The next day, more donors brought in donations and she found her energies buoyed by their volunteering efforts. To gain inner strength, she found herself relying on biblical passages: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Phil 4:6) "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19)

True enough, Cherry relates that every problem she encountered was solved with ease. She needed boxes, as she had more relief goods to ship. 100 boxes arrived, provided by another donor, Total Resource International. They also donated first aid kits, including emergency test kits, flashlights and blankets.

Lessons Cherry learned:
a.That she cannot artificially limit folks from contributing. Even her son, Josh who serves in the Airforce in Idaho, wanted to sacrifice his meal allowance to be part of the circle of giving.

b.That she cannot presume to have all the solutions. Problems were solved, all she had to do was ask and folks stepped up with answers or guided her in right approach.

c.That she must do relief work with the highest intentions, including the extra work of bookkeeping, to set up the operations on honest footing.

d.That she must not seek validation, for Life is great, it simply must be shared with those who have less.

Cherry is no Chris Holm, but her practices mirrored his. Their moral compasses pointed them to give to those who have less, to equalize the scale. Her final tally, which she humbly shares, amounted to a total of $49,743.72.

Yes, Cherry gave, but actually, she got more. Her best birthday gift at age 40 became her service to others. She was happy, content, as she witnessed her community's depth of love for their kababayans. She enjoyed the teamwork of the community -- singing, laughing, while packing.
Humming behind the background is Mon David’s song “ Throw it away/Give your love/Live Each Day/Keep your heart wide open/Let Sunshine Through/You will never lose anything if it belongs to you! “

Life is great and it was even made greater, with teamwork and good intentions and Her Big Teammate above smiling!

P.S. As I write this column, this information came in: 18 of my Facebook friends donated to UNICEF, led by Yong B., Lillian, Lucita, Linda, Leny, John, Nickee, Ruth, Marcelo, Richard, Tatullah, Enrique, Gladys, Laarni, Josephine, Paul, Rachel and yours truly. FASO, St. Genevieve Church and Asian Journal raised $10,000. 4 forty-foot containers have been filled. ABS-CBN Foundation received Php 68.3 million cash, Php 100.2 million in-kind and 242,451 families served. Manila Sunrise has packed 290 boxes.


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