Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Letter We Received

Dear World Vision,

My name is Lily Zamadics and I am six years old.
My friends gave money at my birthday party so that we could buy things for other children. We collected so much money – it’s almost $200! I picked out 10 fruit trees because people can eat the fruit. My friend Chloe thought chickens would be good because of the eggs, so we bought two of those. My friend Conor really wanted someone to have a warm blanket. And my other friends chose the goat because of the milk.

I hope the kids will love what we got for them!


Lily & Friends (Chloe, Conor, Amanda, Alison, Ryan, Ashley, Kennedy, Gracie, Erin, Madeline, Morgan, Catherine & Michaela)


Contributed by Sally Zamadics

My daughter’s sixth birthday was approaching. As I looked around Lily’s room -- filled with clothes, books, toys and everything else a six-year-old would want or need -- I couldn’t bear the thought of receiving more “stuff.”

First of all, she didn’t need any more toys. And secondly, we didn’t want our daughter to start to expect an excessive amount of gifts at every birthday or holiday.

So, my husband and I decided to use her birthday party as a way to give rather than receive. We explained it to Lily ... and she was on board!

I contacted the Gift Catalog department at World Vision and told them what we wanted to do. They directed me to the “Giving Toolbox,” a complimentary kit that can be ordered online. I ordered, and it arrived within two weeks.

When we mailed Lily’s birthday invitations to her friends, we included a note that asked her friends to bring a cash donation instead of gifts. We hung the poster at the party (which was included in the Giving Toolbox) and we collected donations as her friends arrived. We collected $180.

During the birthday party, I sat down with the children. I explained that not all children have what they have. "Some children can’t afford to go to school, and don’t have enough food to eat!" I told them.

They all listened! I told them that we were going to purchase some items from the Gift Catalog so that some other children could have a little bit more. They were excited!

We looked through the catalog and I explained some of the options. They were responsive, and they offered ideas of what we should purchase and why. In the end, they chose one goat, two chickens, ten fruit trees and one warm blanket.

The kids really “got it,” and it was an incredibly rewarding experience for all.

This was an absolute “win, win” for everyone. Lives half a world away will be changed through the gifts we purchased from the Gift Catalog. And my daughter and her friends realized that it actually does feel better to give than to receive.

We will continue to do this for Lily’s birthday every year, and I will do it for my younger daughter when she is older. I want both Lily and Ava to grow up knowing it is their responsibility to share what God has given them with others.

Pedaling World Vision's Great Gift Catalog

Like many of us here in the U.S., I enjoy biking. I don't have to ride a bike; after all, I do have a car, and it's generally a faster way to travel. But like many, I bike for fun, and for exercise.

While in Southern Africa this summer, I was amazed at how many bicycles I saw in many places I traveled. In Lubumbashi, Congo, there seemed to be far more bikes on the road than cars. And it was obvious that these cyclists weren't doing it for health or pleasure. Many of the bicycles I saw were so loaded with commodities you could barely see the person who was walking along behind it and pushing it down the road! I quickly realized people were using bikes like trucks. They were an essential part of doing business, a commerce vehicle.

In developing countries such as the Congo, a bicycle can be as valuable as a car is here. It can make or break a business. It can mean the difference between having food in your stomach, or not. In many communities, it is the only way midwives or doctors or nurses can arrive quickly at the scene of an emergency.

While healthy, my bicycle habit is not cheap. Just to replace a wheel on my cyclocross bike can cost $300.

That's why this Christmas, rather than getting me a new wheel or the latest bike gadget, I'm going to recommend to my family that they purchase an entire bike through World Vision's Gift Catalog, where a gift of $210 will provide a sturdy, brand-new bike to someone who really and truly needs it -- for their livelihood, not just for exercise! -- in a developing country such as the Congo.

For those of us who "have everything," and have a hard time thinking of what to suggest when people ask us what we want, the Gift Catalog is the greatest thing! I am really enjoying thinking about how foregoing that new wheel will actually help get someone somewhere else in the world a whole new set of wheels, something that will really make a difference and change their life.

And it's also a great way to do last-minute shopping, all the way up until Christmas Eve.

For the next week or two, in this blog space, we're going to feature some cool stories from people who have discovered how the Gift Catalog revolutionizes their view of Christmas giving. Starting tomorrow! So stay tuned.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Phoenix, Arizona Event: Hoops for Hope


Austin Gutwein 12, shoots freethrows during his grassroots nationwide movement ("Hoops of Hope") event on Saturday, December 2 at Central Christian Church in Mesa, Arizona.

Gutwein is in his third year of the Hoops of Hope mission, where children shoot basketball freethrows to support AIDS orphans.

All photos by David Kadlubowski.

Austin offers some advice to Kyle Patterson 6, as he shoots freethrows.

Tyler Petrosky 9, (center) shoots freethrows during theHoops of Hope event in Phoenix on Saturday. Hundreds of youngsters across the country joined Austin in his efforts.

Participate in Hoops of Hope.

Donate to the Seattle Hoops of Hope fundraising effort.

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Santa Cruz, California: AIDS Walk Event

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Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day 2006 - Event Index

Every 14 seconds, a child loses a parent to AIDS. This is a challenge laid at the feet of each and every person on the planet who considers compassion a virtue, and particularly to those who believe there is a God who cares for and identifies with those who suffer in silence.

The clock is ticking. We must do what we can today to start building a better world for children, to do all we can to put their needs first. AIDS is devastating families and communities around the world, and children are suffering the most.

This blog is a compilation of reports from World AIDS Day activities throughout the nation, a 24-hour snapshot documenting the activities and contributions of thousands of volunteers throughout the U.S.

We have indexed blog entries by city and state. Clicking on a link will take you to the most recent entry regarding the World AIDS Day activities in that city. There may be additional entries for that city lower down, so be sure to scroll down.

We encourage you to submit your own comments or observations in association with any entry. Simply click the "Comments" link at the end of this or any blog entry. All comments will be reviewed by an editor then posted as appropriate.

New York
North Carolina

World AIDS Day in Chicago

Eighth graders from a Chicago area elementary school stopped by the World Vision Storehouse to help put together caregiver kits for aids workers that will be sent to Africa. This is Candace Mason Woods preparing one of the finished kits for shipping.

Christopher Walker (left) and Imari Townsend.

Eighth grade teacher Ms. Brandy Bolden (left) helps Princess Zulu of Zambia assemble Caregiver Kits.

Princess Zulu helps student Candace Mason Woods assemble kits.

Princess Zulu, who is a prominent Zambian who is HIV-positive, shares her story and her hope with the visiting students.


Despite 20 degree weather and snow and ice on the ground over a thousand marchers from World Vision took to the streets of Chicago to support International AIDS Day which took place around the world Friday. The route of the march took the marchers through down town Chicago in the early evening hours. As the marchers made their way past the NBC 5 TV studios they found themselves part of the evening news.

All Photos by Bob Black/Genesis Photos.

The group of marchers makes its way past the old water station on North Michigan Ave.

Warming up with a few good marching songs.

All photos courtesy Bob Black/Genesis Photos.

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Giving Back at the Shelter

Women at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission’s Women and Children’s Shelter make Caregiver Kits.

Ryan Smith is assistant editor with World Vision’s publications department. He graduated from Seattle Pacific University in June 2006. All photos by Jon Warren, photo director for World Vision.

Braxton, 4, enthusiastically loaded towels, soap, and other items into plastic containers—World Vision caregiver kits. “We’re helping sick people in Africa,” she announced.

When Braxton finished one, she pulled her mom back to the front of the line of assemblers. “She’s put together at least 12 containers,” her mother, Jamie, said with a proud smile. And the pair made at least five more before the supplies ran out.

In less than two hours, women at the Union Gospel Mission Women and Children’s Shelter put together 500 kits for caregivers across the world who take care of AIDS sufferers. The supplies in the kits are basic—things like notebooks, pens, soap, towels, gloves, and a flashlight—but their impact on the quality of care in rural villages is profound.

This was the first opportunity for the women of the shelter to create something that helps other people, said Gloria Hall, the director of the shelter. “I knew the women would love to do this because they love to connect with people.”

The Women and Children’s Shelter houses up to 90 people, providing short-term care and long-term rehabilitation for women and children in Seattle. “We try to create a safe environment for the women to heal and get back their dignity,” Gloria said. “[Creating these kits] is something that gives them dignity, because they have something to offer.”

“We don’t get many opportunities to do things like this, so it’s good to be able to give back,” said Maria, a woman with a big smile and overflowing enthusiasm. “We’re very blessed here, at the Union Gospel Mission and in the United States.”

Another resident, Nancy, was glad to have the opportunity to help. “I used to work with Alzheimer’s patients, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to help people,” she said. But making the “gift boxes” for caregivers was a good way to do that again.

When the work was done, Gloria said, the ladies asked for the opportunity to make more caregiver kits. “These women, even though they’re in poverty, are the most giving people.”

- Ryan Smith

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World AIDS Day Events in New York City

First Lady of Zambia, Maureen Mwanawasa: "AIDS a Global Challenge"

The Watoto Children's Choir is Comprised of AIDS Orphans* From Uganda

*Orphans who have lost one or both parents, presumably to HIV or AIDS.

World Vision's World AIDS Day celebration in New York City was blessed by the Ugandan Kids Watoto Choir singing at the "Tavern on the Green" in Central Park West on Friday, December 1. All photos by David Singer/Genesis.

Festivities included putting together Caregiver Kits that will be shipped to Africa, where AIDS is an epidemic.

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Seattle, Washington Event: Students Respond with Music and Art

Blog contributor: Ryan Smith. Photography by Jon Warren.

World AIDS Day at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) kicked off yesterday with a benefit show featuring students responding to the AIDS pandemic through music and art. About 100 students packed the room, gathering to enjoy some great music and to support AIDS orphans around the world.

Danielle Henry, one of three musicians who performed, shared a beautiful ballad titled “Blessed.” She jokes that some of her friends call it “The AIDS Song.” She wrote it after walking through the World Vision AIDS Experience last year.

"I Went Home and Wept"

“[The Experience] was really inspiring, because I was putting myself somewhere besides my little Christian college campus. I was seeing what other people had to walk through on a daily basis,” Danielle says. “I went home and wept, and the song came out of that.”

Lyrics like "How do we get away from that little box of pride that’s filling up our lives?" and "Where do we draw the line between what is right and that little selfish thing inside?" were a challenge to look past immediate surroundings — and a challenge for students to visit the AIDS Experience that’s currently on campus.

In fact, the concert event itself was sparked from that song, says Wendy Whitley, a sophomore who leads SPU’s Acting on AIDS chapter. “I heard Danielle perform the song, and the idea for a concert got rolling,” she says. “I think that this event is important because it shows that students are responding to the AIDS crisis in their own creative ways.”

Representing a World Affected by AIDS

While Danielle and others played their music, Scott Erickson was painting to the side of the stage. He painted an African girl and an Indian boy to represent the world affected by AIDS. “A lot of the attention about AIDS goes to Africa, and rightly so,” Scott says. “But it’s spreading to the rest of the world, and especially India, and I wanted to show the global spread of the disease for World AIDS Day.”

“Scott the Painter,” as he is more commonly known, isn’t a student, but he has painted for many SPU events and regularly works with churches and non-profits to add a visual experience to events, in addition to his studio work.

To see stories, photos, and video about other World AIDS Day events at Seattle Pacific University, check back to this site throughout the rest of this evening!

Check out Danielle’s music at
See some of Scott’s artwork at

SPU students: Please click the "comments" button below ... are you planning on making any changes to your life as a result of this campaign? Tell us about the child you chose, and why. Let us know what you are thinking!

- Ryan Smith

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Seattle, Washington Event: "Lives on the Line"

Blog contributor Ryan Smith; all photos by Jon Warren.

December 1 is a cold and rainy morning here is Seattle (what else is new?) ... but seven students from Seattle Pacific University woke before the sun in an effort to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic.

They braved the 35-degree cold to create an interactive display, in the heart of their campus, depicting the plight of children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS. The display, called “Lives on the Line,” gives their fellow students the opportunity to take a card with a photo and story of a child in need and pray for him or her throughout World AIDS Day.

“I think people know that there is a problem with AIDS, but it can be hard to find things to do about it,” said sophomore Amy McNair. “We’re trying to find outlets for people to get involved.” The photo is a reminder to pray for and learn about a child from across the globe, Amy said. She and most of the others working this morning are members of the Acting on AIDS chapter on campus.

Students Turn Out in Droves

“It’s been overwhelming to see the number of volunteers,” says sophomore Wendy Whitley. “People are excited and willing to help and be involved, and whether they can come to every meeting or not, students want to do something.”

One of those students is Jon Viducich, a 19-year-old sophomore. He became aware of the AIDS crisis when his friends became passionate about it, and he has begun to learn more and get involved. “With all the things going on at college, I can’t do all the activities, but I like to be involved when I can,” he says.

These students have been working for weeks to lay the groundwork for the events of the day. And as dawn breaks, they are beginning to see the fruits of their efforts. A student tentatively walks up to the string of cards. “Go ahead and take a picture of an orphan,” Amy calls out. “Take it with you and pray for them throughout the day.” The girl smiles, takes a card, and continues on to class.

- Ryan Smith

Watch video.

World Vision AIDS Experience -- Africa Exhibit

A "miniature" version of the World Vision AIDS Experience was also available at SPU for students to examine this week ...

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Tacoma, Washington Event: The Mayor Rocks the House

Mayor Bill Baarsma spoke to students and community members last night about his recent trip to Lesotho with World Vision.

A World AIDS Day Rally featuring the Tacoma city mayor and others was held at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Thursday.

Baarsma, who signed a friendship city agreement with the mayor of Maseru, Lesotho during his trip, told the audience that his goal is to have city of Tacoma residents sponsor 1,000 children (orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS), provide 10,000 Caregiver Kits (for volunteers in Africa who are caring for HIV sufferers), raise $50,000, and provide 300 desks for Lesotho by the end of September.

"I'm a citizen of Tacoma, you are a citizen of Lesotho, but we are all a part of the same community," Baarsma reported telling the people of Lesotho during his recent trip. "Dealing with this horrific pandemic requires more than just prevention, although that's certainly one part of it." The mayor said it also requires the holistic approach to bettering the community which is used by World Vision.

- Mike Nichols, World Vision Communications

VIDEO: Pacific Lutheran University Students Speak Out

Lindsay Cook adds her orange thumbprint to the "Make Your Mark Campaign" at the Tacoma World AIDS Day Rally at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. The "Make Your Mark" Campaign is an advocacy campaign asking President Bush and Congress to allocate at least $5 billion of the 2008 budget for the global AIDS pandemic, with 10 percent dedicated to the care of orphans and vulnerable children.

Members of The Gathering Band cover U2's "One" at the Tacoma World AIDS Day Rally at Pacific Lutheran University Thursday night, giving those in attendance a chance to reflect on what they had heard from the event speakers.

PLU students: Please click the "comments" button below ... are you planning on making any changes to your life as a result of this campaign? Let us know what you are thinking!

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World Vision AIDS Experience in Charlotte, North Carolina

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Menlo Park Caregiver Kit Event

Video submitted by Tom Costanza, featuring World Vision's Andrea Dearborn.

Pre-AIDS Day activities at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California included putting together AIDS Care Packages and Prayer Notes. The packages will be shipped to Africa, the world's most AIDS-ravaged continent.

An "AIDS ribbon sculpture" which was created yesterday (Thursday, November 30) out of 3 million pennies, became the centerpiece at the warehouse where volunteers packed Caregiver Kits up for shipping. At left of the ribbon, volunteers are writing prayer cards to enclose in the kits.

Photos in this post by Gary Fong/Genesis Photos.

Participants Jessica Duggins and Alica Portman write personal Prayer Cards before putting them into the Caregiver Kit packages.

Close-up of the Caregiver Kits prepared yesterday by Menlo Park event attendees. Kits include petroleum jelly, soap, cotton, note books, pens, batteries, and personal Prayer Cards.

The Caregiver Kit assembly point at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church is a blur of activity as volunteers rush around, preparing kits for shipping to Africa.

Volunteers laid hands on the boxes and prayed that their efforts, prayers and hopes would touch people in other lands.

The following photos are provided by Andrea Dearborn ...

Jill Tremblay, a member of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, assembles a caregiver kit. She built her first caregiver kit in April. One of her kits ended up in the hands of a caregiver named Davis Tembo in Makungwa ADP, Zambia.

Priscilla, 9, and her friend Derek, 7, assemble caregiver kits. "I want to help people," says Priscilla. Both children diligently assembled caregiver kits all night, building so many that they lost track of the number.

Members of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California marked World AIDS day by building 8,000 caregiver kits. Five truckloads of supplies arrived at a warehouse on Wednesday November 29, and volunteers spent hours arranging the event and sorting the supplies. On Thursday night, 1,400 kits were assembled. World Vision staff member Dana Buck helps prepare for the event.

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