Yesterday, I joined my husband's office in their sponsored Christmas event with a local children's organization called
Heep Hong Society, an organization which provides services for children with disabilities and their family members. As both sponsors and volunteers, we joined the staff, 40 of the children, and their family members for a day at a ranch where the kids were able to ride horses, ride in a cow-cart, play games, have a BBQ dinner, and receive presents from Santa.
The children, ages 2 to 6, suffer from physical, mental, and behavīoral disorders such as Autism, Down's Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy, so for most children there (if not all), it was their first time riding a horse or even seeing a live horse, and they were all very happy and excited. Apparently, one father was so happy that he cried when he saw his young autistic son ride the horse so well and so calmly for the first time.
During the BBQ dinner, one young girl was really cute. In seeing the adults holding the long metal forks BBQ-ing meat over the grill, she wanted to hold her little plastic fork with a meatball on it over the grill too... and her mom laughingly told her "You can't grill with a plastic fork, silly girl". It was really cute and funny. :)
It's amazing to see the family with their children. Even though it must be difficult for them, you could still see how much the parents/grandparents love their child/grandchild. I'm sure it's hard enough raising a kid as is, but so much more difficult raising a kid with mental and behavīoral disabilities. Even harder would be raising them as a single parent... which is sadly not uncommon. We met a handful of single moms doing their best to raise their autistic child on their own. :(
I think it's wonderful of my husband's office to not only donate money to such a meaningful organization, but actually volunteer their help and spend the day with them. According to the director of the center, there aren't many corporate sponsors who'd actually make this effort to get to know the children and their parents. This is the second year that his office has sponsored and volunteered at Heep Hong's events, and some of the children and parents actually recognize my husband and some of his office members, and I'm sure they all appreciate how much they really care about the children.
It felt great to be a part of such a special experience. I spent my time taking photos of the children on horseback. As it's such a rare opportunity for them, I wanted the family members to have photos to remember it by. For some it may even be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
At the end of the day, the children presented each of us volunteers with these cute handmade drawings... :)
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