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2018 Pearl S. Buck Christmas Party

Maria Ting, one of Orphanage Club's amazing helpers, wrote an account on what she experienced during the returning annual PSB Christmas Party: My Experience at the Annual Orphanage Club & Pearl S. Buck Foundation Christmas

Party

By Maria Ting


This past Christmas season, I participated in an event that I have only heard about

but never became involved in. It is the annual Christmas party that the Taipei

American School Orphanage Club (OC) and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation host for

over 650 guests for disadvantaged families, which most recently took place on

December 23, 2018 at TAS. This tradition began in 1980 and has continued for nearly

38 years. The faculty sponsor for the Orphanage Club is Mr. Richard Arnold, my high

school history teacher and lifelong mentor. I never joined the OC as his student, but I

am happy that my daughter became a member this year, 29 years after I graduated.


The Orphanage Club has always been legendary in my memory. It was founded in

December 1970 by a handful of TAS students, accompanied by Mr. Arnold, to assist

the children at Chung-Yi Orphanage. Today, in its 48th year, the OC continues to

support the Chung-Yi Orphanage, the Catholic Welfare (Cathwel) Orphanage, and so

much more. Each year, under the leadership of 15 committee chairs, over 150

student members from grades 6 through 12 organize a wide variety of events to

improve the lives of these children and others in and outside of Taiwan. These

events are made possible through fundraising efforts by the student members,

which include organizing rummage and book sales, flea markets, game booths at the

popular PTA International Food and Spring Fairs. I’ve learned that since its founding,

the Orphanage Club has donated over US$2.5 million to charities both locally and

abroad, extending its reach as far as Africa and Southeast Asia. Whenever I chat with

Mr. Arnold about the OC, I am impressed by how much direct assistance OC has

provided. I am further moved to learn that OC members, and many of their parents,

remain active and committed to OC’s mission years after graduation from TAS.


The Orphanage Club was introduced to The Pearl S. Buck Foundation (PSB) in Taiwan

and its executive director, Mrs. Eva Fong, through a departing faculty member some

40 years ago, and from that fateful meeting the annual Christmas party tradition

began. PSB Taiwan was set up in 1968, through the tireless efforts of Mrs. Fong, to

assist Amerasian mixed race children living in Taiwan. Many of these children were

fathered by foreign soldiers who visited the island on leave for recreation and relief

from their military duties throughout Asia. The children faced discrimination and

suffered from self-identity issues, but through Mrs. Fong’s extraordinary

commitment, compassion, and genuine concern for each child, they grew up to be

pillars in society who also give back to PSB. Today, PSB’s services has expanded to

include new immigrant families in Taiwan. Mrs. Fong retired in 2000 but continued

to attend the Christmas party every year, only unable to attend for the first time in

2018.


My participation in this year’s Christmas party began with a casual question from Mr.

Arnold about collecting 350 shopping bags to hold party favors for the young guests.

After further conversation, I learned the actual guest list would also extend to their

families, which meant at least 650 people in total. The party’s agenda included

providing a large feast to feed all of the guests, fulfilling 300 individual gift requests,

and awarding five student scholarships. Eager for myself and my children to have an

opportunity to help those less fortunate, I signed up to assist the OC members

however I can.


I began by spreading the word about the party and what were needed to make it

successful: volunteers to set up, decorate and clean up, welcome guests and service

the luncheon; sponsorship for various menu items and goody bag items, and more

importantly, the gifts that 300 children wished for from Santa. The response I

received was immediate and overwhelming. Parents, graduates, faculty, staff and

members of the community-at-large, many of whom are ACC members, jumped in

with both feet to donate their time, money, and expressed willingness to help in any

way. Friends with previous experience shared their expertise with me. Strangers

contacted me and asked about what gifts to purchase.


The names of everyone we wish to thank from this experience are too many to list

within these pages’ margins, but from the first moment of my involvement to the

last Christmas decoration removed after the party, my spirit was constantly lifted

and heart full by their acts of kindness and generosity. The OC family also rallied with

returning graduates and current students working together to complete all

outstanding tasks. On the big day, the halls and cafeteria were beautifully decorated

, and the food happily served and quickly consumed. PSB’s 50th anniversary this year

was made even more special by the return of the Amerasian children who attended.

Performance by the PSB families and by TAS students were well-received. Santa

came to distribute each gift. It was a joyful, memorable and rewarding time for all

involved. My children and I will be back again next Christmas.


For more information on how to be become involved with the Orphanage Club,

please visit www.tasorphanageclub.com and their Facebook page

@tasorphanageclub


To support upcoming events of the the Pearl S. Buck Foundation in Taiwan, please

visit https://reurl.cc/OkWYy and their Facebook page @psbf.taiwan



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