Christmas Wrap Up (GET IT?!)

HELLOOOOO strangers!

Christmas seems like a lifetime ago, how is it already February? I don’t know, but I do know that I needed a serious break from all things digital after this December so here I am with my final recap of Christmas.  I had zero time, ZERO, to update throughout the month of December so I hope you’ll forgive me for the delay.

Vanessa and I ran around Bucharest for weeks collecting gifts from all the wonderful people who sponsored a child this Christmas. Along with our own project with over 125 gifts for children who live in an extremely poor village about an hour away from Iasi, we helped host the team from England (had them over for dinner a couple of nights and I am very proud to say that no one got food poisoning) attended every single Christmas party with the children, and even managed to have fun? Right, Vanessa, WE HAD FUN!!

Here are just some of the pictures I took throughout those couple of weeks.

Picking up the gifts from the US embassy: (Thank you so much to everyone who participated and especially Tiffany who organized it!)

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Group of volunteers who came with us to deliver gifts to a village 2 hours away from Bucharest.  We had music, a skit, and gifts for the children. We were expecting about 30-40 children and over 200 people showed up. Basically the ENTIRE village showed up- it was amazing!

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One of the great changes this year was having an actual party for our “Rahova” kids. In the past few years, we would deliver the gifts to their house with a small hot meal and be so busy we couldn’t spend much time with them. This year we invited them to a restaurant that we rented out, for music, a hot meal and to receive their gifts. We all agreed it was much better. We were able to spend time with the children and eat together in a warm place. ALSO, the kids were very very well behaved so we should be invited back next year!

 

Sometimes we did make house calls though! Here we all our at one families home!

 

And of course, we delivered almost 100 gifts to my favorite area- India! I am so jaded now that these images almost seem like my new “normal” When I bring friends or new volunteers to these places I realize how brutal these conditions are.

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Went live on Facebook to show people more than just photos this year! Here is me in Bucharest, a little place we called India. Some of these children have come, and will come to our camps, and we make sure to give every child here a gift every Christmas. Also, if you know anything about me its that I cannot do the simplest things on computers so I have no idea how to make the video smaller. Sorry. (Edit: I figured it out, maybe I should be in IT)

 

 

My apartment is wayyyyyy too small to hold over 120 huge gifts SO I used my friend Brad’s guest room and bathroom to store them all! A huge thank you to FitPilates, the US Embassy, parents of the British School, Grace Garden families and everyone else in between who donated these AMAZING gifts. THEY WERE HUGE! ANDDDD  huge thank you to Royal Russell school in Croydon, Susan Lyon’s hair clients, The Captain’s Wheel church and all of my friends on Instagram who put up with my nagging and donated money so we could shop for the rest of the gifts! Also, for paying for the truck to take all 128 gifts 6 hours away from BUCHAREST! Without you, kids would have gone without this Christmas. I appreciate your support and love for not only the children, but me and my work. THANK YOU!

 

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And of course, a huge thanks to Vanessa who was my right hand man throughout these few weeks! We were so proud of ourselves this morning as we loaded up the van! We had spent weeks shopping, organizing, wrapping, and today was the day we got to load the van and relax (or so we thought) ONE gift was coming from America in a friend’s luggage that morning, and well…. the luggage was lost of course. So we shopped for one final child, at 9pm 3 days before Christmas.

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The next day I dropped Vanessa at the airport at 3am and started my long journey to the village to throw our final two Christmas parties. There was no way I was going to miss these two after all the work we had put into it! The 6 hour drive in the dark was dangerous and probably stupid. But I made it and it was worth it!  Look at their smiles 🙂

 

Again, thank you so much to everyone involved. A couple years ago I could have never imagined the amount of people…. friends, family, internet strangers, expats… who would be involved to make this possible. I am so grateful for friends here who support this work and love these children.  And for everyone abroad who supports these wonderful kids without ever meeting them. Thank you thank you thank you! Roll on Christmas 2018!

If you’re wondering what I did for Christmas this year, it was nothing. I did nothing. And it was amazing.

Hope everyone has had a great start to the New Year (I have!)

New blog will be posted NEXT WEEK with January’s update and 2018 resolutions that I have been actually keeping this year!

Til then,

Blessings from Bucha,

Camillaaaaaa

Christmas Chaos!

I haven’t had a single moment to update this since I launched the Christmas fundraiser.  An overwhelming amount of support came in quickly and since then, I have be so busy! Here is a brief update on the last week.

Saturday night, Vanessa arrived! For those of you that don’t know, Vanessa has come to Romania twice with the summer college teams from my home church in LA to help run the children’s camp I coordinate. Thankfully, she wanted to come back this Christmas and see an entire new side of ministry abroad, and be my right hand woman!

Vanessa arrived Saturday after close to traveling for 24 hours and Sunday I had planned a fun day to get adjusted.  There was a Christmas Charity Bazaar on in Bucharest so we went to that. Each country had a booth and sold their food.  I sprinted to the Mexico booth, bought canned black beans, multiple packs of corn tortillas and ate at the taco bar and I was happy.

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After the bazaar, we went to brunch with a couple of my friends. Then grocery shopping for the week. I knew Monday would be a crazy day, I had every minute planned out, along with the entire week….okay fine, two weeks. SO, we had an early night and were up “early” to shop!

Monday we went shopping for children with donated money.  THANK YOU to my friends and family who were overwhelmingly generous. We were able to get the children good quality boots, and warm durable jackets to deal with their harsh weather because we had more than enough money to cover their Christmas lists. This picture doesnt even know it justice. It was just the only time I had a minute to take a picture.  We probably filled about 10 carts worth of gifts!  Aren’t the boots cute though!?

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Before we went home to wrap them, Vanessa had to work on her finals from a coffee shop.  She had 2 papers and an exam to take and she is currently finished with one paper and the exam so ONE MORE TO GO!

We eventually DID go home and wrap over 100 presents. I thought it would have taken us a couple days but we stayed up til midnight to finish them all! My house looked like the North Pole. IMG_1492

Thank you to the Captain’s Wheel church who donated tons of Santa sweet packs, and scarves, headbands and gloves! We were able to find a home for ALL of it! Here are the first 15 children’s gifts done, with the Santa’s attached to each! They will love having candy from America!

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The gifts are HUGE! For each child, and I need to store 128.  Thankfully my friend has a huge apartment on the ground floor and is letting me use it to store them. The rest of the week was spent doing the same thing, shopping, wrapping, sorting and organizing the gifts at my friends house.

The team from the UK arrived today and we are cooking for them tomorrow along with collecting gifts from all over the city.  People have sponsored children from the north, south and even villages outside of Bucharest so that means, lots of driving… in awful traffic to sort them!  Saturday is the first day we are delivering gifts though so that is sure to give us a boost of energy!

Again, thank you to everyone who donated gifts, or funds to make this possible! It is so great to go shopping and not have to worry about a very strict tight budget. THANK YOU!!!

Update you when I can, maybe tomorrow, maybe in 2018. Who knows at this point! This blog is all over the kind of place but thats exactly how my brain is right now so it feels appropriate.

 

Camillaaaaaa

 

Christmas Fundraiser!!!

It’s that time of year again!! So excited to be a part of making over 400 children in Romania have joy this Christmas season. Of course, this isn’t possible without YOUR help so please consider sponsoring a child so they have a gift to open on Christmas! This is the ONLY gift these children will receive, as they are all living in extreme poverty. Here are some of the areas these children are living in.

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We have met with all of the children individually and helped them write a wish list for Santa. Now we need YOUR help to either financially cover the cost of their gifts or if you’re local to Bucharest, shop and wrap their gifts for them.  These children are asking for basic stuff like winter clothes and shoes to deal with the harsh cold season ahead, but they are also asking for gifts like we asked for growing up, remote control cars, dolls, and coloring books.  Here is one of the letters to Santa from a 3 year old girl asking for a doll, clothes and a toy car.

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If you are local to Bucharest, below is an example of what your sponsorship email will look like.  You will also be sent a more in depth information sheet about the sponsorship!

 

If you would like to donate from abroad, please follow this GoFundMe Link and consider donating $25/20GBP to cover the costs of the gifts, wrapping supplies and delivery fees.

https://www.gofundme.com/homelesschildrenchristmasgifts

Please email me directly (camillacroxton@gmail.com) if you are local to Bucharest and interested in shopping for the gifts or if you are a talented and speedy wrapper! There is so much to do before we start delivering the gifts that any help is welcome!

 

Thank you in advance,

Camilla