#ShareLove: Volunteer group feeds Manila's homeless on Christmas Eve
MANILA, Philippines – While everyone else was busy preparing their Noche Buena on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, a group of volunteers gave their time to feed Manila's homeless.
Food for Empowerment in Emergencies and Disasters (FEED), a volunteer non-profit organization that offers assistance and support during calamities in the Philippines, gave out food packs and relief goods to 1,000 homeless people in the area of Raja Sulayman Park in Malate.
According to Chuck Torres, a FEED member, the group decided to sacrifice their time to be with people who need help. "This is the first time we conducted an outreach during Christmas and it is something we can continue for the years to come," he added.
The outreach was made possible with the help of private individuals and members' donations. The Bike Scouts of the Philippines helped distribute food packs to homeless, reaching as far as Roxas Boulevard. (READ: Bike Scouts PH to ride 1000km for disaster preparedness)
A group of youth volunteers from an Ortigas-based church also helped and brought new shoes for the homeless.
Children were the biggest beneficiaries during the program. Aside from dinner and goods, they received treats like cotton candy and ice cream.
How FEED started
FEED started as a group of artists who called themselves ART Relief Volunteers. They bonded together during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) when they served as volunteers at Villamor Airbase and deployed to Tacloban in December 2013.
The organization is not yet registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the Securities and Exchange Commission, but they are planning to do so in January 2017.
"We don't even have an office yet. But we keep on going because we think that it's the least we can do to help. Especially during Yolanda, I felt strongly that it was a sin not to help," Malen Manait, a FEED member, said.
At the moment, the group gathers donations by posting on their Facebook accounts. They welcome everyone who wants to devote time to become volunteers.
In 2016, FEED conducted 4 other outreach programs in Northern Samar, Batanes, Isabela, and Mandaluyong – using mostly their own money to make the programs happen.
As tiring as the program was for the group, seeing the smile on the faces of the beneficiaries was enough to make them feel the true meaning of Christmas.
"What keeps us going is the thought that these are our kababayan who need help. We need to help," Manait concluded. – Rappler.com
Rappler intern Arlit Janry Parlero is a senior AB Journalism student from Centro Escolar University Manila.