By Tim Fausch, ER Communications (Feb. 4, 2018)
So you’ve survived winter and are looking for something exciting to do this year. You’ve thought about planning a vacation, but the idea of another beach trip leaves you empty. Fortunately for you, we’ve got the perfect solution: Join an Extreme Response Christmas team and help change lives!
Join an ER Christmas team? Why would you want to do that?
We’re glad you asked. Here are seven reasons why you would be crazy not to join a team.
1. Why settle for celebrating Christmas once when you can celebrate it seven-plus times? ER Christmas teams go where few others go in order to connect with people living in extreme conditions. Our Christmas teams typically host at least one party each day for a week, with each party taking place in a unique setting.
2. You dislike “touristy” trips. We feel your pain. Nothing screams “snoozer” like a visit to some man-made theme park or shopping district. As part of an ER Christmas team, you’ll meet real people living on the edge of society and you’ll play a central role in providing them with hope!
3. Your passport needs a stamp from Ecuador, the Philippines or South Africa. How can you say you’ve seen the world without visiting one or all of these incredible countries?
4. You want more friends. Christmas teams are a great way to meet people who share your passions. You’ll enjoy meeting people from different places and learning about their lives.
5. You still have a couple megabytes of space left on your digital camera. Get ready, because you’ll meet some of the cutest kids on the planet. You’ll be unable to resist snapping pics of them
having the time of their life. For most kids, it will be their only chance to celebrate Christmas.
6. Your heart needs warming. Exhausting jobs, household chores and busy schedules can suck the life out of us. It’s easy to misplace our compassion. We’ll help you find it! Every day will be filled with opportunities to help “the least of these”.
7. You’ve always wanted to join “an assembly line of love”. Our teams
participate in something we like to call “organized chaos”. This is when we gather as a team to assemble gift bags for the children. It’s actually a bit of slap-happy fun and a great way to bond with your team.
So we’ve shared some fun and funky reasons to join a Christmas team, but the real reason is that you’ll be investing into the lives of people who are often forgotten by society…families who live in squatter communities, people who glean their living picking through the trash for recyclables, children who are sick, abandoned or orphaned, and the victims of human trafficking. These are the people we reach and we’d love to have you join us.
If you’ve never been on an ER Christmas team, perhaps this is the year. We’re celebrating 20 years of Christmas parties, starting with the very first one (see a video of that party) in the Quito Dump in 1997. In the years since, we’ve become more organized and efficient as you can see in these more recent video. But one thing hasn’t changed. We continue to share the story – and joy – of Christmas to those who eagerly want to receive it.
This year we have three Christmas Teams planned in early December. You can learn more about our Christmas teams by visiting our Christmas Outreach page.
If you are unable to join a team in person, we would still highly value your participation as a volunteer or donor. For general information, email Christmas@extremeresponse.org.
It Takes Teamwork
By Dawn Carnill, Director of Christmas Outreach (Nov. 12, 2017)
The 23-member 2017 South Africa Christmas team is already back home, decorating their own trees and gearing up for their own family holidays in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. They spent 10 days in South Africa in late November, putting on 17 parties and going on numerous home visits with the Living Hope home-based healthcare workers. A couple of thousand gifts were handed out, food was served, crafts were made, carnival games were played, faces were painted, and thousands upon thousands of high-fives, fist-bumps and hugs were shared.
These 23 people didn’t get there by themselves – nor did the 12 team members serving in Manila this week, or the 26 in Quito for our Christmas parties there. We don’t do these celebrations by ourselves. It takes teamwork. As I worked alongside the team, the ER staff, our partners and their staff, and all those we celebrated with this year (so far), I was reminded over and over again of the concept of teamwork.
In South Africa, we’ve been privileged to have a man named Fransi drive our team for the last seven years or so. He always joins in and helps us out – with supplies, moving luggage and even with our time of sharing in Beaufort West with the kids and garbage dump workers, who share his native Afrikaans language. (That’s him pictured above, speaking to our team and the dump workers; and at left with our other driver, Noel.)
Every time you thank or commend Fransi, he replies with, “It takes teamwork.” Every. Single. Time. He, and all of those who work on the ground with us in our three locations, is part of the greater ER Christmas team.
Those of you reading this are also part of that team. You encourage us, you give to our Christmas Outreach fund, you share what we with your friends and families, you have collected beanie babies, school supplies and hotwheel cars for us, you may have been on one of our past Christmas teams or you may have helped one of our team members with their funds or their family while they were gone.
You’ve helped us put on Christmas parties for thousands of people this year already in South Africa, the Philippines, Ecuador and also Nepal. I would like to thank you for your part in taking the joy of Christmas to thousands of people around the globe this year. Thank you for helping us to be able to continue serving those we work with and expand our reach through these celebrations.
Christmas Celebration Transforms Graciela
By Robyn Wallace , Quito Dump After-school Director (Dec 5, 2014)
It’s party time!
Why does Extreme Response organize Christmas celebrations every December for the oppressed in Ecuador? How can these parties be worth gobs of volunteers flying into town, the time, the energy, and the money?
Right here is your answer.
This is “Graciela”. I approached her when I saw her sitting separately from all the other people during the party. She is a resident at Extreme Response affiliate Hogar de Ancianos, a Quito-based home for the elderly who have no one to care for them, no money to pay for care, and are often homeless.
Within minutes of our introduction, Graciela expressed how she didn’t like the other people at the home. In her mind, they had stolen her favorite platter from her. When asked if she had any friends, her answer was, “no”. She said she has no idea where her children are or how to contact them.
Unhappy, bitter, angry, alone.
Somehow, within 30 minutes, Graciela transformed. You’d have had to see it to believe it. The change was set into motion by an invitation to paint her nails. That grumpy face took on a new shape: a smile, a sparkle, a surge of energy.
As Graciela was about to join the nail station, she realized that she was next to play a game. Forget the nails, it was time to show the other folks how to throw a beanbag through a hole like a champ. Check.
Graciela then invited the gal next to her to the nail station. She returned with glittery gold nails and a friend. Being Ecuadorian, it was nearly impossible for her to resist a free travel coffee mug at the craft table. (Their love of coffee has no end in this country!) She and her gal pal decorated coffee mugs and the smile never left her face.
We talked. We joked. We laughed. She was alive and loving it!
Pretty worth it, wouldn’t you say?
Hogar de Ancianos is an ER affiliate that cares for people often forgotten by society. ER staff and volunteers regularly visit the home to encourage the residents, provide supplies, and offer help and hope.