Hearts of Gold started as an idea, a feeling, and a desire to give back. It began around Christmas, as a response to a need. It has since grown into what many expats in Cuenca experience and know today as The Hearts of Gold Foundation.
One of the yearly highlights and largest fundraising events for Hearts of Gold is the Christmas Gala. This year was no exception. In fact, the 2014 Christmas Gala was our most successful event ever. Enough money was raised to continue the El Arenal lunch program for 77 children until July 2015, which we partner with the City of Cuenca for. As well, enough money was raised to make over 270 custom candy bags for all the children of the foundations we support and 65, 45 pound Christmas Canesta’s were stuffed full of daily food staples and health products for the families, spreading some much needed Christmas cheer and bounty. After paying all Gala expenses we also had enough money to continue Hearts of Gold’s operations into the first quarter! The short video below highlights the event’s festivities. A HUGE thank you to all who made it out for this special once a year event. From the volunteers who worked tireless hours, to the people who attended, it was a night to remember!
One of the most important things Hearts of Gold does with its Christmas Gala money each year is produce Christmas Canesta’s for the families we serve as well as something for the children we help. These Canesta Baskets are often the only help these families receive during the holidays, and, as such have a large impact on how these families spend their Holiday season. This year, Hearts of Gold wanted to do something different for our Canesta’s. Last year we purchased prepackaged Canasta and candy bags from Corral- this year we decided to make own. The results were far worth the effort and thanks to the help of many amazing volunteers, who descended upon the office for a morning of chaos and fun, 65 custom Christmas Canesta bags were made in record time!
Each Canesta weighed in at over 45 pounds and was stuffed full of important food staples and health products ranging from rice, lentils, noodles and bread to toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and soap. Every single item purchased this year was either from the Mercado or from another Foundation ensuring that all the money that was spent went to those who needed it most. In fact, the lady who we purchased the majority of our Canasta products from confessed to our Program Director Johanna that without our purchase she was unsure how she was going to make her bills that month. In photos below you will see the difference between the Canesta we made (on the left) and one of the same value that you can purchase pre-made (on the right).
The most expensive items this year in our Canesta’s were a box of artisan holiday chocolates made by the parents of Fundacion Escuchame that helps blind and deaf children and a jar of homemade jam from the sustainability project from the parents of CETAP- Lucy. Talk about paying it forward!
This year we also had custom traditional candy bags made, over 270, for all the children at the foundations we serve. This year’s candy bags featured all the best local candies and had a huge assortment of sweets from chocolates to animal crackers we made sure we had it all covered! Often, the prepackaged ones use expired candies and a repetition of cheaper, smaller products to fill the bag. These are typical of the ones you can find at Supermaxi and Corral. Every item in our Candy bags was hand selected by our Ecuadorian Program Director ensuring the best quality and variety for maximum surprise and smiles.
From everyone at Hearts of Gold, once again, a HUGE heartfelt thank-you to the ex-pat community! Without YOUR support none of these amazing programs or smiles would be possible. If you would like to contribute there is still time to do so on the right hand side of the page, every little bit counts!
Each day, the staff feels blessed to be a part of this caring and wonderful community that allows us to act out our greatest dreams.