Good deeds, Philippine style
When Monica Recto volunteered to help pick up plastic trash on the shorelines of Freedom Island last year, she really enjoyed the feeling of giving back in such a personal way.
Recto’s involvement was part of the Philippines’ participation in the global movement known as Good Deeds Day, a day that joins together people from all over the world in a simultaneous effort to help either the people or the planet.
Organized by the not-for-profit organization Hands on Manila in partnership with Zendesk Philippines, the special day included activities like a coastal cleanup that collected over 200 sacks of garbage as well as a gardening project where volunteers and parents planted vegetables and herbs using recyclable soda bottles. Volunteers also read stories about environment protection to daycare pupils.
A good deed can come in any form — helping brighten the day of hospital patients, collecting clothes for donation, gathering friends to clean up or paint a park or simply standing outside and giving flowers to people to make them smile. And sometimes, a good deed can offer a lesson itself.
“It was surprising to learn that we have this coastal area in Metro Manila. And it’s an eye-opener — we have to do more. The coastal cleanup was both a fun and educational experience that I got to do with my fellow associates — a win-win for all,” says Lief Sykioco, who volunteered with a group from Ingram Micro.
A garden of giving
Since its launch in 2007, Good Deeds Day has not only taken root, it has grown into its own garden of giving.
Started by an Israeli-American philanthropist Shari Arison, Good Deeds Day’s first year involved 7,000 participants. In 2018, this day of celebrating kindness brought together 3.5 million people from 100 countries, rendering a total of seven million hours of service.
On Sunday, April 7, 2019, Hands on Manila will once again celebrate Good Deeds Day, but this time the goal is to allow abandoned and often abused children to have fun and feel loved for a day.
With each child paired with a volunteer, 200 children from the Bahay Maria Children’s Center, Holy Family Home for Girls and St. Andrew the Apostle Parish Makati will be attending a carnival-themed event, complete with games, food, and entertainment.
To instill a sense of community responsibility in each child ages 7-12, the volunteers will teach children how to segregate and recycle waste, with games designed to encourage them to become earth volunteers.
The event, organized in partnership with Barangay Bel Air, the Women of Bel Air Foundation and the Bel Air Village Association, will take place at the Bel Air covered court in Makati City from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The P500 ticket includes a t-shirt, access to the fair and coupons for sandwiches, drinks, taho, and dirty ice cream for the child beneficiary.
Those who want to support the event but are unable to attend may also donate tickets to those who wish to volunteer their time but lack the means to do so.
Innovative model for volunteer service
The concept of donating a day to help others fits in perfectly with Hands on Manila’s innovative model for volunteer service – providing regular volunteer activities that give people the flexibility to plan volunteer time according to their schedules.
The activities, done in cooperation with NGOs from various organizations for children, focus on the elderly, education, environment, livelihood and healthcare. They are well-planned in advance so they can fit people’s interests and time constraints.
Recto is again excited to give back through this year’s event and has even invited her friends and family.
“It’s a nice way to spend your Sunday, thinking of others and breaking the routine. We’re always so busy, but making time to do that one good deed is always possible,” she says.
Another return volunteer, Mai Mislang, is encouraging her high school friends to bring their children to the event, as she wants children to value their parents and learn to help those in need in a festive environment that they also will enjoy.
“I think the orphans who have experienced some form of trauma deserve this day to be shown the love that they deserve. It is also a great way for the more privileged children to interact with orphans in an enjoyable setting, as a way of showing them how fortunate they truly are and of teaching them to share their blessings,” she says.
Louise Jewell Bonilla explains why Good Deeds Day has become part of her routine.
She says, “My annual volunteer experience would never be complete without joining Good Deeds Day. I joined last 2017 and taught my little partner to make a sketch of what she dreamt for herself and the environment. Last year, I was a part of the coastal clean-up on Freedom Island. This is going to be my third year of participation, and I’ll continue it until my entire family and friends join it, too. Imagine, doing good with 100 more countries!”
Hands on Manila Founder Gianna Montinola says that organizing events such as Good Deeds Day is an attempt to counter all that is negative today – the disturbing news about natural disasters, wars, refugees, terrorist attacks, displays of hate and rude discourse.
“It is our way of trying to focus on what is positive and what is inspiring. It is our way of changing the conversation because when you change your conversation, you change your world,” she says. /ee