Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chicken Charlie Starts the New Year with a Lot of Children's Smile

Wazzup Pilipinas!

I have a new chicken meal favorite and its called Chicken Charlie!

Just take a look at my souvenir that I brought home from the Virlanie Foundation. It may not look like much from afar, but when you look at it closer, you'll see that it has memorable writings on it. 

It says "Giving back the smile to street children", and this is highly sentimental because it will forever remind me of my experience with the kids of the Virlanie Foundation, and how generous Chicken Charlie was in organizing such a heart-warming event for the homeless, abandoned and abused youth.

The first kid that I met was "BJ", a young teenager who is also a member of the Virlanie choir. He said he will be graduating this March from elementary studies, and was so proud in telling me about it. Aside from singing, he said he also loves to dance with his friends at the foundation. Wow! such a talented kid - he can sing, dance, and tell a story so vibrant and hopeful of the future.

I've also met "Ellen". One at a time, she went to all of us, took our hand, and blessed on our hands. It was so touching indeed. I couldn't stop myself from smiling and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Next was "Kelly". She was such a chubby but also one of the cutest girl at the center, with matching shades attached to her cute outfit. She had a lot of stories to tell to, but more on how she was being teased by his friends at the foundation. The other younger kids were all teaching her because of her chubbiness. I also had a laugh when she teased back at her friends. One amazing thing about kids is that you don't feel any real "anger" among each other. They're just basically carefree, and in fact it's like they welcome to be noticed because it somehow gives them a sense of acceptance and warm feeling of being an important part of a family.

There was also this kid who was wearing a jacket in the middle of a hot afternoon - and he was still wearing it until the whole night. I forgot his name because I was paying more attention to his antics. He was also saying a lot about something but I just couldn't remember what they were because I was laughing inside and thinking of how fascinating he made that moment, of our little chat with the rest of his buddies, seem so filled with happiness.

Chicken Charlie is an up and coming fast food chain who recently held this feeding program (but it was more like a party) at the Virlanie Foundation's Drop In Center. The chicken company began the New Year with a noble goal of providing the kids of the foundation a happy and heartfelt celebration of the beginning of 2013.  Over 50 children were in attendance and got to enjoy the crispy and tasty deep-fried chicken pieces from Chicken Charlie, some french fries, a glass of ice tea and delightful sweet treats from Sweet Mamita - Yey! Delicious and brightly colored cupcakes for everyone!

The event was held not just to celebrate the arrival of 2013, but to raise awareness for the Foundation’s Rice Up For Street Children Campaign.   Rice Up is a campaign which solicits uncooked rice for roughly 400 children in Virlanie’s 13 homes and the children that are part of its outreach programs (Mobile Unit & Open Day Center).  Every year, Virlanie goes through at least 600 sacks of rice, providing these kids with three meals a day. From their chart for the month of January, they still lack 332 sacks of rice (as of that day January 5).

This year, Chicken Charlie lends its efforts to helping source this essential food for the children.  Being a food-related business itself, Chicken Charlie strongly believes in the philosophy that one of the first steps of providing young people with a good foundation for their future is providing them with good food.  And in the Philippines, the foundation of every good meal is rice.

Not only is a cupful of boiled rice the staple of every Filipino meal, it is also a special kind of carbohydrate that contains essential amino acids and vitamins that supports the mental and physical development of a child. In a country where millions live below the poverty line, many children are denied even this fundamental nourishment, resulting in a rising number of malnutrition cases.   


The party was even highlighted by a performance from the Virlanie Choir (whom I coincidentally wore a shirt with a similar color as their choir uniform). I guess I'm an honorary member of the choir because of the shirt color that I picked that day. It was a match made in heaven!

They were humming and producing bird-like sounds plus a whole lot of singing going on for everyone's entertainment...and their choreography and moves were well executed and so smooth that you'll hardly notice any mistake from them. I guess they were raised disciplined and organized by the foundation.

There's actually a lot more stories to tell  but it would make this blog post a long novel. So I may just tell the rest of the story some other time.

The Virlanie Foundation is a non-profit organization striving to provide a better future for underprivileged children by giving them a home and a better shot at the future.  Balanced meals figure heavily into providing a stable, healthy environment for these children, and Virlanie has been providing this, with the help of donations and corporate partners, since 1992.  So far, the foundation has helped over 13,500 children through their 12 homes and 12 programs within and outside Metro Manila.  The founder is a French guy named Dominique Lemay. Incidentally, Virlanie was named after her two daughters named Virginia and Melanie. 

The Virlanie Foundation also tries to raise additional funds by selling t-shirts hand painted by the kids themselves. They use templates as a guide to color the designs on the shirts and the foundation eventually sells them for Php 300 a piece. Not to bad knowing that you are helping kids out when you buy a shirt.

The shirt being worn by Janelle, our pretty Virlanie Foundation representative that day, is actually reserved to Virlanie Foundation staff only. But the t-shirt designs that are for sale are also amazing.

I bought one shirt as my additional way of helping the kids of the Virlanie Foundation. I hope that many will follow my example so that many kids would benefit as well.

I might have plans to go back to the foundation very soon. Another treat for the kids in the works! They really made me feel warm and fuzzy inside that I want to share my blessings with them and to the others who may also need my help - whatever little way I can.

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