THE CHRISTMAS GIFT PROJECT
What is the Sri Lankan Orphanages Christmas Gift Project?
The Sri Lankan Orphanages Christmas Gift Project is about sending Christmas gifts to children in Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim orphanages in the north, south, east and west of Sri Lanka.
The focus of the Christmas Gift Project has been to share the joy of Christmas with children who have very little and to make a difference in their lives by making them feel special with an individually packed and named gift at Christmas. For many children, this is the only gift they receive each year.
How did the Christmas Gift Project begin?
It all began in December 1994. One woman, as a gesture of thanksgiving for the miracle of having children after being told for 7 long years that it was medically impossible, gathered a small group of friends to send 20 gifts to one orphange in Sri Lanka.
How has the Project grown?
What began as a one-off action, gathered momentum through the enthusiasm of that intial group and continued to grow year after year, becoming known as The Sri Lankan Orphanages Christmas Gift Project. In December 2004, on the eve of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the 7.30 Report, on ABC television, included a segment featuring the Christmas Gift Project. Over the years, as the network of donors and volunteers continued to grow, the numbers of children impacted by this project has increased exponentially from those 20 children who received gifts in 1994 to approximately 3500 children in up to 100 centres receiving gifts each year.
Who is involved?
The increase in the number of gifts sent has been made possible by the commitment, support and practical assistance of a large number of dedicated individuals, businesses, community groups, organsiations, schools, churches, workplaces and retirement villages. We are also enormously grateful to the many hundreds of volunteers who come together to pack and wrap the gifts each October.
How does it happen?
Initially, the National YMCA of Sri Lanka collected and sent us lists with the names, genders and ages of the children in over 50 orphanages across Sri Lanka. As the number of gifts increased, individual centres around the country send us this same information. Responsibility for some of the smaller centres are allocated to individuals or groups who, using their various networks, co-ordinate the gifts for those homes. The remaining centres are looked after at the famous "Packing Day", which takes place in October each year at a number of venues.
What does a gift consist of?
Each gift consists of:
a set of new summer clothing, including underwear
stationery and exercise books
toiletries and towels
hair ornaments for girls and caps for boys, and
other miscellaneous appropriate inclusions.
In addition, sports equipment and craft supplies are included in the packing case for the benefit of all in the home.
How are the gifts sourced?
The contents of the gifts are entirely new and are either donated by individuals or retailers or purchased in bulk at wholesale prices with donated funds.
Our dedicated sewers are also at work throughout the year making thousands of dresses, skirts, toiletry bags, dolls, pillow slips and other such items.
How are the gifts sent?
The gifts are shipped to Sri Lanka. The cost of shipping is underwritten by Christian City Church Carlingford (CCC).
How are the gifts delivered to the orphanages?
Child Action Lanka clears the shipment of gifts and distributes the gifts to the various orphanages through YMCA branches around the country.
What accountability measures are in place?
CCC provides administrative and accounting support and provides acknowledgements for all donations received.
Each orphanage provides written acknowledgement of the gifts and sends back photographs of the gift distribution.
Many volunteer Sri Lankan/Australians holidaying in Sri Lanka also visit the orphanages, participate in the gift distribution and bring back firsthand information on the impact of the gifts on the children.