Seven-year-old Likhit was desperate to own a toy helicopter. Paul Raj, 11 years old, wanted a wrist watch, while Madan wished he had got a new jeans. Likhit, Paul and Madan will be among the 330 'lucky' underprivileged children who are sure to get the biggest surprises of their lives, today. Thanks to the efforts of 'Make A Wish' initiative propelled by a group of expats in Bangalore, these children will be gifted all that they have asked for.
And the list is endless: Bicycles, badminton racquets, cricket bats, toy trains, helicopters, teddy bears, Barbie dolls, clothing, bed sheets, girls accessories, doll houses, school bags and many more. Every child will be gifted with a goody bag consisting of candies, toiletry kit, school stationary, cookies and the much anticipated precious gift.
Maura Chari has been running around for the last one month collecting and collating the wish-list along with her friends. “There are five key people behind this mission and there are many more extending support. We strongly felt for this cause and wanted to execute every bit of it with passion. Last year, we were really overwhelmed by the response and this year the numbers have almost doubled,” says Maura, a German national.
“This initiative is very close to my heart and it's a very loving way of gifting,” she adds.
The children have been selected from Baale Mane, Building Blocks, Jeevrathni, Sahasra Deepika, and Grace Fellowship Charitable Trust – five active NGOs in Bangalore.
In addition to expats, some NRIs are also chipping in with help to back the cause. “We are sure that these kids won't be getting any birthday gifts either. It is important to gift these children what they want. We have collected all possible gifts you can think of. There were some tense moments as the list kept increasing, but help poured in at the last moment,” says Maura.
The organisers were moved by the wishes made by some children.
“It's not all about toys alone. Some children wanted text books, bedsheets and a decent pair of clothes,” says Maura. She felt that the act of buying, wrapping it and personally gifting it brings in lots of personal involvement.
During last Christmas season, the expat group distributed wish cards to 230 orphans and poor children from four NGOs. “This year too we adopted the same pattern and asked every child to write their individual wishes for things they want to have. Every child had very specific wishes, be it the size, variety and colour. We ensure that every wish was treated with utmost care. We put the social media to good use and spread the word requesting the expat members to sponsor a child's wish,” says Ema Trinidad, hailing from Philippines, adding: “The gifts started pouring one after the other. Now, I have a room full of gifts to be distributed on Saturday. No place to even keep your foot.”
Make a Wish organisers are driving inspiration from last year's gifting carnival and it is those priceless moments that are pepping up their spirits this time. “Do not miss the delight on the face of the kids the moment every gift gets unwrapped. We make sure that all gift packets are opened at the venue itself,” says Ema.
According to Ema, collecting specific gifts is not an easy job and lots of planning goes behind the scene to ensure that there is no disappointment.
“It's not all about receiving gifts. We need to allot them properly. One mistake from our part means one unhappy child and that's the last thing we want to let happen. Last year, there were some people who promised to deliver the gifts and disappeared at the last moment. This year, we kept a deadline of five days before the event to make sure that not a single child would miss the desired gift,” says Ema.
This year, all items have been coded in addition to back-up gifts to ensure that everyone goes back happy.
The gala gifting mela begins at 2 pm today at the Royal Orchid hotel on Old Airport Road with magicians, musicians and chefs lining up a bit of surprises up their sleeves for the children.