Hello Family, Friends, and Supporters!
We’ve been working on this “Review of 2022” email for quite some time. This past year has been a very busy one full of many emotions for all of us resulting from the conflict in Ukraine, devastating weather events around the globe, as well as economic and personal difficulties. But, I am pleased to report that 2022 has been S.O.N.G.’s most successful and productive year yet providing much needed support to orphaned children. Our S.O.S. (SONG ORPHAN SUPPORT) Program made significant impacts in many ways this past year.
Obviously, the invasion of Ukraine took center stage in 2022 in so many ways. With the outpouring of donations from our supporters new and old, S.O.N.G. was able to not only provide much needed support to children orphaned by the invasion immediately but assisted in the rescue of many children, elderly, and refugees from hostile areas in central and eastern Ukraine.
In early April, S.O.N.G. teamed up with Aerial Recovery Group out of Nashville to assist with the safe evacuation of children orphaned by the invasion in Ukraine. This included unaccompanied children and elderly refugees. Upon hearing that many orphaned and unaccompanied children had fallen victim to traffickers at the border, who had promised them safety and security, S.O.N.G. knew it was time to get involved. To date, 998 orphans, 6331 internally displaced refugees, and 92 animals have been rescued by Aerial Recovery teams.
S.O.N.G.’s September trip to the Refugee Centers in southern Poland brought 300 pounds of needed diabetic and medical supplies for the children and elderly. BJ’s Wholesale Club donated medicine and other medical treatment items. Many of our supporters, old and new, answered our call for much needed diabetic supplies.
2022 brought many new innovative ways to fundraise in order to support S.O.N.G.’s Mission. We received a call from Darlene O. from Auburn in October wanting to do something different to celebrate her sister’s 70th birthday. She asked what kind of item we could use “70” of. We told her we needed gloves and mittens of various sizes for both girls and boys orphaned by the conflict in Ukraine. When she was checking out at Ocean State Job Lot in Sturbridge, the Manager came over and asked what all the gloves and mittens were for. When she told the Manager where they were going, they offered to match what she spent. Ocean State donated a $300.00 Gift Card to S.O.N.G. and we were able to buy 70 winter hats as well. We delivered the gloves, mittens, and hats on our Poland/Ukraine trip in November just in time for a 12″ snowfall! Thank you, Darlene! And Ocean State Job Lot!
Along with delivering the 70 pairs of winter gloves and mittens along with 70 winter hats to the Southside Refugee House and another shelter sponsored by Solid Rock Mission in Rzeszow, Poland, S.O.N.G. also provided winter boots for the children. Southside was housing 90 Ukrainian refugees, 40 of which were children. S.O.N.G. has been supporting Southside since April helping with utilities, food, medical supplies, and other necessities. Special thanks to Szymon Czyszek of the Knights of Columbus in Europe for assisting in securing winter coats for all the children which were provided by the local K of C Council in Rzeszow as part of their annual Coats for Kids Drive.
Sandy H. contacted us and wanted to do something different for her son’s birthday party. In lieu of traditional gifts from his friends, she asked that donations be made to S.O.N.G. to be earmarked for our S.O.S. Ukraine as one of his friends in his class was from Ukraine. This effort resulted in over $500.00 raised!
During Advent, Pamela Metayer and her Family of West Brookfield decided that in lieu of exchanging traditional Christmas gifts, they told Family & Friends that they would be making donations to S.O.N.G. in their name instead of the usual gift-giving and asked them to do the same. Their Christmas Giving Drive resulted in $1,200.00 in donations! Thank you, Pamela & your Family!
S.O.N.G. has partnered with New Horizons for Children based in Ohio. NHFC is the primary agency overseeing and coordinating support for more than 1,000 orphaned children in 25+ temporary safe havens in western Ukraine, and more than 1,000 orphaned children in facilities in Poland. Many of these children were rescued by Aerial Recovery since April which our Executive Director had teamed up with in the early days of the invasion. During S.O.N.G.’s November trip to Lviv, Ukraine, we assisted NHFC in meeting six children at the train station who had been evacuated out of Zaporizhzhia and processed them into a local children’s shelter that had room. We then met with the Director of the facility and discussed ways to improve the care of the children and how we can help address current and future needs.
Special thanks to Mechanics Hall, Director of Sales Diana Casavecchia, and Education & Outreach Coordinator, Christon Carney for sponsoring a winter item collection drive in support of orphaned children in Ukraine. They collected 121 hats, gloves, and scarves!! S.O.N.G. has delivered them to Ukrainian children in refugee centers in southern Poland, and to children orphaned in Lviv and Irpin, Ukraine. Thank you to everyone who donated and made this possible! We, and the children, are very thankful for your caring and support!
Our S.O.S. Dominionville Program in South Africa brought much-needed support to 38 orphaned children in 2022. We provided new blankets due to an unusually cold winter. Food, school supplies, clothing, toys, and special meals on holidays were our priorities this past year for them. Special thanks to Fr. Joseph for being our caring Program Coordinator and to our volunteers who helped get the food and supplies to the children.
WONDERFUND OF MASSACHUSETTS
With your help, and in partnership with the Wonderfund of Massachusetts, S.O.N.G. was able to fulfill the wishes and bring special Holiday Joy to 25 adolescent children in Foster Care in the Springfield area this past Christmas. Thank you for your continued support of our Mission!
Our “Sponsor an Orphaned Child” program is up and running and very well established. Currently, seven Christian orphaned children (who regularly have to deal with different levels of persecution) in Pakistan are being sponsored by families here in the United States. Their support provides needed food, clothing, medicines, school fees, and supplies, as well as personal gifts at Easter, Christmas, and birthdays. Monthly letters are exchanged when possible between the children and their sponsored Family. These wonderful, special relationships become very personal and heartwarming over time. And all for only $48.00 per month – about $1.60 a day. Sponsors can support a child with monthly or annual payments.
Christian children who are orphaned in Pakistan have minimal fun and productive activities available to them. Many are living with different levels of depression because of different forms of stress in their life. Our SOS Program has changed the lives of many children. Orphaned children we are supporting now have regular access to clean water, food, education, warm bedding and much more. One of our successful annual programs there is the “SOS Spring Festival.” This event is designed to promote the importance of an education and to encourage the children to commit to proper time for their studies. Some children that we are supporting in their education are in government schools in which extracurricular activities are not offered. This festival also offers Bible Study, poem and speech competitions for the children, which will help build their self-confidence and self-esteem. Food is also provided to the participants. Awards and gifts are given to the top three places in the competitions. The children get excited and really look forward to this special event each year.
S.O.N.G. along with a local Knights of Columbus Council have provided special baskets of food every Easter for foster families caring for orphaned children. Many of these families are poor themselves and cannot afford a special meal for Easter celebration. In 2022, more than 50 families received special food packs that will feed a family of five for a month. Included in these packs are special items for the Easter meal. Cost of each food pack: $25.00 USD
In the summer of 2022, we provided twenty electric water coolers and sixty 25-liter storage Igloo type water dispensers to help reduce heat stroke cases in remote villages. Temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer months. Many of the homes where foster families live in these villages do not have electricity. A few fortunate families who do have electricity have agreed to host the water coolers. Other villagers transfer the cool water to the dispensers set around the village. This project has benefitted more than 80 families with foster children.
S.O.N.G. created the “S.O.N.G. Skills Development and Training Center” project in 2021 in a remote village, successfully educating 50+ widows and adolescent orphaned girls with commercial sewing skills to empower them to be qualified to gain employment as a seamstress, or potentially start their own business. This program has helped many depart from abusive, poorly-paid work situations, and on to achieve financial and social stability in a respectable manner. The program also included business and financial management, as well as life skills when necessary. Fortunately, our volunteer Program Coordinator on the ground there was able to recruit professionals who volunteered their time teaching the classes.
In 2021 we introduced “Thanksgiving” to our foster families. This year we continued the new “American” tradition with special food packs for 60 foster families caring for more than 100 orphaned children that will last 30 days through Christmas. These food packs cost 9,100 rupees which is about $30.00 each USD.
At Christmas, we gave 150 orphaned Christian children a new winter blanket (razai) which is a quilted blanket with a removable cover for washing. Each child also received a special candy pack with an assortment of chocolates and candies. A very special treat for these children who rarely receive any special treats. Cost of one razai and a candy pack: 3,500 rupees….about $13.00 USD…..
It is not possible to individually thank everyone who has supported our Mission this past year in this letter, and you know who you are, and we, and the children, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We do feel it is necessary to extend a special thank you to some key people and businesses who were with us every step of the way in 2022.
Thank you to the Catholic Free Press in Worcester for your ongoing support keeping so many of our faithful supporters in the know regarding our fundraising events and our ongoing efforts.
Special thanks to Nat Falk clothing store in Ware. Owner Charlie Lask wanted to do something to help our Ukraine Mission and had “WE STAND WITH UKRAINE” t-shirts made. He has donated over $1,000.00 in profits so far! Shirts are still available in his store. And quality men’s clothes at great prices!
Thank you to Spectrum News TV 1 Worcester and newscaster Meghan Parsons for running regular updates of our ongoing Mission in Ukraine.
A special shout out to Turley Publications, and especially Paula Ouellette, a journalist of the Ware River news whose tireless dedication to her work kept our supporters and those new to us informed of our ongoing work and fundraising events throughout 2022.
Thank you to the Knights of Columbus Council 11080, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish, Brookfield & West Brookfield, for their many years of continued support!
Special thanks to BJ’s Wholesale Warehouse for your regular donations of everything from food to medicine to personal hygiene supplies and so much more!
And lastly to all our Board of Directors, S.O.N.G. volunteers, musicians, and businesses who always answer the call to haul whatever, set up whatever, sell raffle tickets, provide transportation etc. You are the bloodline of this organization! Thank you!
We are so very grateful that we have been able to maintain this ongoing critical Mission providing proper care to so many children who are in situations through no fault of their own. Our work would not be possible without the support of all of YOU. Thank YOU to all our supporters and benefactors! We cannot do this work without You! YOU are GREAT….and WE are GRATEFUL…!