Orphans at the Hogar Escuela Santo Domingo Savio in the Dominican Republic received an early Christmas gift when Miami Marlins player Emilio Bonifacio surprised them on Dec. 14. The 120 boys at the orphanage sponsored by Food For The Poor enjoyed a meal with the baseball star and hometown hero, who later gave each of them T-shirts with the team’s new logo.
“It was an honor to be there at the orphanage and spend time with the kids. I take pride in helping them any which way I can,” Bonifacio said. “Growing up close to that orphanage, I’m proud to have the opportunity to give back to the community I call home.”
The home participates in Food For The Poor’s Angels of Hope child sponsorship program and receives donated items from the international relief and development ministry. The charity recently completed a water project for the home and renovated the kitchen.
The boys who live at the home did not know about Bonifacio’s visit and the lunchroom erupted in cheers when he walked through the doors. One of the boys jumped up and ran to him to give him a big hug.
Many of the boys were wearing orange bands with Bible verses they had received as merit awards. “One of the boys went up to give him one, and before you know it, he had 10 of them on one arm,” said Edward Young, Food For The Poor Country Manager for the D.R. “They even matched the color of the orange in the new uniforms. They wanted to give him something, too.”
Bonifacio distributed T-shirts with the new Miami Marlins logo, and was surprised with an extemporaneous thank you from an 11-year-old who was moved to show his appreciation.
Boys come to the home for a variety of reasons. Some are orphaned; while many have families who are not able to adequately care for them by providing for their basic needs or an education. In some cases, the boys have suffered abuse or mistreatment before finding care and comfort in the home.
“Having Emilio Bonifacio surprise the boys with a visit is a wonderful gift for these young men,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “Through his presence, they know that someone cares enough to spend precious time with them. It’s a reminder that they are loved, that they have a future, and that they can dream. We are so grateful to him.”
In December 2010, Bonifacio joined Food For The Poor in a distribution of more than 2,000 mitts, bats, balls, helmets, catcher’s gear, cleats and uniforms to D.R. baseball leagues for orphans. A similar event is planned for late January 2012.
Food For The Poor and the Miami Marlins also have worked together to raise awareness of the need in Haiti, and representatives of the two groups traveled together in May to celebrate the opening of a village in Malfety. Donations to the Homes for Haiti campaign led to the construction of Inspiration Village, which consists of 41 two-room houses with personal sanitation units. The community has a water well, a solar powered water purification unit, and a community center to offer the opportunity for further education, including vocational skills and training in agriculture and animal husbandry. These services will help the farmers achieve better results, and enable them to support their families and make the community sustainable.
Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.
For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
Food For The Poor
Public Relations Director
954-427-2222 x 6614