IN LIGHT of the recent magnitude 7 earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda that had left the Philippines in a state of calamity, Cebu City Marriott Hotel (CCMH) cancelled its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which was slated last Nov. 28 and instead held a Spirit to Serve the Community project entitled, “I Believe.”
The project was held in Taba-ao Elementary School in Tabogon, Northern Cebu where the typhoon had caused destruction throughout the community. “I Believe” focused on helping school children rise from the ruins of the typhoon, bringing light and hope to their Christmas.
“The Marriott’s Spirit to Serve day at Tabogon was heartwarming and very fulfilling,” expressed Patrick Carroll, CCMH general manager. “To see the face of the children as we arrived to make their day special was overwhelming.”
Seventy-four of the hotels hosts along with a number of media practitioners traveled 2.5 hours to Tabogon with cleaning materials, relief goods, packed meals, toys, gifts and Christmas decoration. The program included classroom clean-up, children’s games, feeding, and distribution of Christmas Shoeboxes.
Since typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines nearly a month ago, local and international aid has been sent, but is scarce in hard to reach rural areas such as Taba-ao.
CCMH director of Human Resources Bobot Codoy said, “Typhoon Yolanda did not only deprive these kids of their homes, but also their future. We are lucky that we were not badly hit, and it is our responsibility to help them cope up and overcome the trauma they experienced so that they can move on. Our Spirit to Serve activity is in lieu of our lighting ceremony that officially symbolizes the start of Christmas in the hotel. And the best way to kick-off the season this year is to go up to the mountains and let the kids feel that even the strongest typhoon cannot take the Christmas spirit away.”
The eventful day was capped off with a ceremonial hanging of the Parol or Christmas Lantern in each classroom through one Marriott associate together with one child to represent each grade level.
On-going projects for Taba-ao Elementary School include repainting, rebuilding, beautifying and installation of roofing is set to be completed by January 2014. They are also one of the beneficiaries of the hotels Crocs Christmas Tree – a project aimed to reach out and care for the community by supplying underprivileged schooling children with footwear.
“Through all the adversity and difficulties that they have endured recently, it was evident that their spirit was not lost. The words “I Believe.” on all their new shirts was truly evident as we brightened their day and outlook for the future.” adds Caroll. (PR)