After a difficult year personally for me last season, I was so glad to be able to have the time to really plan ahead, prepare well, get the word out, and have everything in place for a true *launch* of the 2009 Angel Tree. When we had our first Angel Tree back in 2006, we had only 24 children in one country. Each had one, handmade/crafty Christmas ornament each, with a computer printed paper picture stuffed inside. Each child could only have one sponsor, because I only had one ornament! This year, with an incredible team of dedicated volunteers, this year's Angel Tree promises to be it's biggest and best ever. We have ordered (650) professionally designed ornaments, with 166 children on this years' tree. I envisioned this in the beginning, but it's still so surreal to see how God has blessed this ministry each and every day.
I am so excited about the Christmas Warrior program (www.reecesrainbow.org/christmaswarriors.html), and I am so hopeful it will mean even greater grant donations for ALL of our waiting kids. We're one day in and already off to a great start. And despite this economy we are experiencing, there has not been any downturn in the number of families committing to adopt these precious children.
We have a new video, a new website, and would you look at this new blog design? (I can't take credit for this, it's awesome!)
Some folks have expressed a sense of total depression and being overwhelmed by all 166 kids on this years' tree. Welcome to my world. But the other side of that coin is this: 225+ children have already found families through Reece's Rainbow. Our success in that regard has opened hearts and minds abroad, and encouraged officials to be more open and cooperative in allowing us to actively seek families for their orphaned children with Down syndrome. THAT is why we have so many listed...because we have FOUND that many...because we have been given access to that many...because we have shown the officials that families really do want these beautiful children.
We have seen an increase in the number of birth families who come to take their children home from the orphanages. We have also seen an increase in the number of birth families abroad who seek us out to help find a loving adoptive family for their own child, to give them the future they know their child deserves, but that could never be afforded them in their home country.
Yes, 166 faces is utterly overwhelming. Hard to scroll through, hard to choose who to sponsor for Christmas. Hard not to cry, hard not to see our own child with Down syndrome in each of those faces, and to know the kind of life our own child would have faced had they not been born HERE. Hard not to think to yourself "what can one person do, this problem is too big, there will always be waiting children, my $20 can't make a difference, I want to adopt them all".
But that is what makes Reece's Rainbow SO powerful and SO effective...everybody's $20goes a LONG way collectively. Just ask those 225+ kids who already have a family! Even if you don't have $20 to give, just one forwarded e-mail to your friends and family can make numerous new connections and open new opportunities for our ministry. So don't ever think that your presence and desire to help isn't enough...because it IS.
Love to all, and God bless each of your for your own passion and advocacy, for your tears and fundraising efforts....