Lucia’s Good Luck at Last

You’re never fully dressed without a smile, and wearing one comes naturally for mother-of-three Lucia. She’s a strong and cheerful woman who will do anything for her family.  

She, her husband Joel, and their three children live near our Samar site in the Philippines. Two of the children are sponsored. In December of 2017, her husband became seriously ill and couldn’t work for almost a year. 

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School Fundraiser Builds Lasting Connection

Thanks to his many years as a school principal, Jason Borkowski is pretty familiar with fundraisers. But this year’s fundraiser at Star of the Sea Elementary surpassed all expectations.   

Students at the Catholic school in Surrey, British Columbia raise money every year through a walk-a-thon. Traditionally, students have fundraised for school needs – playground equipment, new computers, etc.  

Amid COVID-19, Borkowski and his colleagues felt they needed to pay forward their blessings.  

“This year, we really wanted to focus on somebody besides ourselves,” Borkowski, principal of the school, shared in an interview. 

His original focus was on Chalice’s 2021 Christmas gift catalogue. He wanted the kids to learn that even a small amount of money can make a difference, and of course, about donating online.  

Soon after, though, he learned about Grapesyard Education Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, a member of Chalice School Connections Campaign.  

School Connections is one of Chalice’s core programs, pairing schools in Canada with schools in Tanzania and Kenya. The Canadian school fundraises for their sister school, and they both pray for one another and exchange videos. Whether they fundraise $2000 or $20,000, it all contributes to positive change.  

Borkowski’s hope was for the students to see, “There are kids in the world who need and deserve just as much as they [students at Star of the Sea] do,” he said.  

Across all grades, the school embarked on a walk-a-thon and took pledges from donors for Chalice.  

Originally, they planned to raise $20,000, with most of that destined for Grapesyard. 

The students looked at that goal, and it was as if they collectively said: We can do better. 

In total, the classes raised $40,261.28 – more than doubling their goal. 

More than $31,000 of the money is headed to Grapesyard, a truly transformative gift that will pay for water taps, school uniforms, teachers’ tables, first aid kits, kitchen improvements, classroom floors and more.  

Star of the Sea also sponsors two children through Chalice, so some of the money will cover that for the year. The rest will go towards the gift catalogue – with a twist. The students will personally pick out the gifts and learn the value of giving.  

Not only did the school raise money, but it made lasting connections by teaching the students about the issues that affect people in Nairobi. Younger classes learned through stories, while older ones learned about government and economy in Kenya.  

“It became sort of a school-wide study of the area,” Borkowski said. 

He plans to deepen the connection by writing back and forth with Grapesyard, and hopes the fundraiser will help students see the world differently.  

After all, kids from Grapesyard smile the same smiles they do in British Columbia. Joy is joy, no matter which continent you’re on.  

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more! 

Three Quotes from Saints to Inspire Your Resolutions

New year, new you, right? Though every day is a chance for a fresh start, the start of a new year is the beginning of a new chapter, symbolically and literally.  

Whether your resolutions are big or small, or don’t yet exist at all, a bit of heavenly wisdom can always lend hope for the new year. Taking inspiration from the sayings of our favourite saints, we’re sharing three ways to level up your New Year’s resolutions. Bonus – all these saints are from the regions where Chalice serves!  

#1 “If I had a thousand lives, I’d give every one to Jesus.” – St. Lorenzo Ruiz, patron saint of the Philippines 

As St. Lorenzo surely knew, growing deeper in faith is always a great resolution. This year, think about how you can give your life to Jesus a little more. That could be taking in a spiritual podcast* (Bible in a Year, anyone?), going to Mass, or spending an extra five minutes in daily prayer. At the end of the 2022, you can ask yourself: how did I give my life to Jesus this year?   

*Keep your ears open for the first episode of our Chalice podcast, Stories from the Table, at the end of March!  

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Sponsorship Spells Success for Surya

Bleak and desolate.  

That’s how Surya felt after his father passed away when he was just 13 years old. Left living in a rental home with only his ailing mother and younger brother, the future looked hopeless. 

The Chalice Tamil site, however, wasn’t very far from where Surya lived. Soon, he grew acquainted with the site staff, and was accepted into the sponsorship program. Soon, it gave him and his family a new lease on life. 

Surya quickly proved his ability in several disciplines, including sports and mechanical activities. Repairing and assembling materials was particularly fascinating. So, when the time came, he was encouraged to study for a diploma in mechanical engineering. 

And study he did! Soon after graduation, Surya became a final inspector in quality deportment at a tire company. Not only has he risen in the ranks, he’s now one of the most important employees in the company. 

For young people like Surya, the Chalice sponsorship program offers them healing from traumatic experiences.  

“I will always be grateful to my sponsor, whom I hold in high esteem and who helped me learn the value of friendship and solidarity, in the same way, I think all the staff of Chalice for having chosen me for this program,” Surya writes. 

Want to give hope to someone like Surya? Find out more about the Chalice sponsorship program!  

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more!

Photo Friday: Our Top 5 ‘Throwback’ photos!

Welcome to Photo Friday! Each Friday, we share photo collections of our favourite shots from our sponsor sites around the world. 

A new year is a symbolic fresh start for many people, with “New year, new me” an oft-quoted expression around this time. It’s important to celebrate the new, of course, but it’s also important not to remember our past. Our top 5 ‘Throwback’ photos remind us of all the good things worth remembering in the near year. 

P.S. Our 2021 gift catalogue is here! 

#5: Yummy Food

In 2019, kids at our Michogomone site in Kenya received some healthy meals! A core program of ours at Chalice is our Nutrition Program, and we’ll keep that going into the new year, and beyond. 

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How Sponsorship Helped a Whole Family

Motivation, food, and education – just some of the gifts Chalice donors give when they sponsor a child or elder.  

Yet sponsorship does even more than that. If you pull back the curtain, you’ll see the blessings go beyond just one person, extending to entire families. Yuliya, a sponsored child near our Ternopil site in Ukraine, is the perfect example of how sponsorship makes a difference in the lives of many.  

Now five years old, her Chalice sponsor chose her when she was three. That ensured she and her five siblings had enough food to eat, clothing to wear, and school supplies to continue their education. 

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Photo Friday: Our top 5 ‘Christmas Season’ photos! 

Welcome to Photo Friday! Each Friday, we share photo collections of our favourite shots from our sponsor sites around the world. 

It’s Christmas Eve, and here at Chalice, we couldn’t celebrate Photo Friday with anything other than our top 5 ‘Christmas Season’ photos!  

P.S. Our 2021 gift catalogue is here! 

#5: Christmas together 

Before COVID-19, our site in Guatemala had special large gatherings for ChristmasTwo years ago, three communities of sponsored children came together for a Christmas festival, just a few days before the big day itself. Everyone festooned their local halls with Christmas decorations, read scripture, and reflected upon the birth of Jesus. The children dug into cake afterwards during social time! We can’t wait until they can have celebrations like this again.  

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A Different Kind of Christmas

If we asked you to associate one word with Christmas, what would it be? 

Maybe light, togetherness, or food. Whatever it is, it likely wouldn’t be ‘loneliness’.  

Yet that’s the prospect parents at our Chiclayo sponsor site in Peru were faced with last year, when COVID-19 restrictions ruled out in-person gatherings. 

Parents at the site, however, were creative. They knew to expect a different kind of Christmas, but they also knew a pandemic wouldn’t stop them from celebrating. 

Fortunately, living in the age of technology, all things are possible. The families gathered for an online Mass, with several smaller virtual celebrations alongside. 

“They participated with songs, prayer, readings and reflection on the Word,” describes Maribel, site director. 

The parents wanted to spread their joy to others. They made “solidarity baskets”, chock full of essential items that their most vulnerable neighbours, including non-sponsored children, needed most. At the same time, they cooked and packed up take-home “solidarity suppers” for the families to eat at home. 

The local Chalice family circles also ensured all their members received a staple food package with everything need for a traditional Peruvian Christmas dinner.  

A staple treat in Latin America, panettone bread is often eaten at Christmas time in Peru. Site staff bought more than 100 loaves to hand out to mothers new to sponsorship, volunteers and support staff. 

“We want to express our deep gratitude to you and to the entire Chalice family,” writes Maribel, “since with your support the celebration of faith, hope and actions of sharing solidarity that our families had become a reality.” 

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more!

Photo Friday: Our top 5 ‘Sponsorship’ photos photos!

Welcome to Photo Friday! Each Friday, we share photo collections of our favourite shots from our sponsor sites around the world. 

Sponsorship. It’s the core of what we do, and the heartbeat of all we’ll do in future. Thousands of children’s lives have been changed, thanks to our amazing supporters. 

This week marks the third in our Gift Catalogue series, and this week, we’re taking it back to basics. Sponsoring a child or elder is always an option through the gift catalogue, and our top 5 ‘Sponsorship’ photos show just how rewarding it can be! 

P.S. Our 2021 gift catalogue is here! 

#5: Nearer to Nursing 

Christine’s story is a reminder that the connections sponsorship makes don’t end when a child exits the program.  

Christine was her parents’ first child and grew up near Chalice’s Meru site in Kenya. She worked hard in school, helped along by her Chalice sponsor, who supported her through her high school and into university.  

Sadly, Christine was forced to pause her studies and work as a hospital custodian to earn income. Though it was hard work, she was inspired by the medical staff and their good work. 

One day as she walked home, she passed a Chalice site staff worker, who struck up a conversation. At this point, Christine had lost hope she could enroll in university again.  

The Meru site staff applied for Christine to receive assistance to re-enroll in post-secondary and urged her to follow her dream of becoming a nurse.  

Now, Christine is a nursing student! And it all started with sponsorship.

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Our Top Tips for Giving Joy This Christmas

Ah, Christmas. Just that word evokes the sound of tiny feet tumbling down the stairs to tear open presents, crackling fires, and the clanging of dishes on the table while family members reunite after months apart.  

It’s no secret that exchanging gifts is one thing that makes Christmas magical, but toys and trinkets aren’t the only way to give joy. Inspired by our sponsor sites around the world, we’re here with our top tips for giving joy this Christmas season.  

Preparing and Sharing 

At our Ternopil site in Ukraine, the head of the family blesses the food at the table on Christmas Eve, before blessing each dinner attendee. Indeed, Christmas Eve is believed to be the time for miracles. 

Melding spices together into a scrumptious meal and sharing the fruits of that hard work is a simple, joyful staple at Christmas. Letting your little ones help with the stirring and mixing – that’s precious time and joy you won’t get back. 

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