Gifts of hope from the Yellow Boat

More than 300 kids of families in Barangay Batia, Bocaue, Bulacan became the beneficiary of bags and school supplies from the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and Melissa Villa-Wilcox, an OFW in San Jose, California. Dubbed Project P.E.A.R.L.S. (Peace Education Aspiration Respect Love Smiles), the project’s beneficiaries were families who had been relocated from a slum community in Tondo, Manila.

Veterinarian Anton Lim, who heads the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, has been active in various charitable initiatives since 2010, helping to address the prevalent needs of the less fortunate in society, believing that providing even the most basic needs to disadvantaged people are enough to bring them hope for a better future.

Jollibee entertains the children during the outreach program in Barangay Matiang, Bocaue, Bulacan.

Both the families of Lim and Villa-Wilcox were among the past recipients of the Jollibee Family Values Awards, Jollibee’s annual recognition for exemplary Filipino families. During the event that was co-sponsored by Bag 943 (a social entrepreneurship venture which gives schoolbags to students to champion education), the kids received backpacks with school supplies and were treated to Jollibee snacks in the special Jolly Joy Box capped by a special appearance of the well-loved Jollibee mascot.

“Giving the kids school bags is just the first step in helping boost the morale of the youngsters and keeping their dreams of a better education within reach. It’s more than just a bag. It’s a symbol of where you put your pencil and notebook, and that represents hope,” said Dr. Lim.

“We just don’t come here and give bags, we also encourage them to study hard because that’s the only way our country will move forward,” he added.

Melissa Villa-Wilcox of Project P.E.A.R.L.S. and Dr. Anton Lim of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation as they distribute langhap-sarap meals in Jolly Joy Boxes for the kids.

The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation started in Layag-Layag, a mangrove village in Zamboanga City where children brave the river just to reach school. The foundation provided boats to ferry the students to school and to enable the families to earn a living through fishing.

Project P.E.A.R.L.S., on the other hand, was established in 2008 by Villa-Wilcox, who also serves as executive director, to engage in outreach programs and gather volunteers to help the poorest of the poor. Her husband, Clif and their daughter Francesca also help in the fundraising events and in developing educational programs while Villa-Wilcox’s brother Juan oversees all local operations as team leader in the Philippines.The group has worked hard to relocate the community away from Barangay Ulingan in Tondo where factories threaten the health of the children. Scholarship grants are also provided by the organization for the affected students.

Despite having different advocacy programs, the two organizations work hand-in-hand to help make the Philippines a better place.

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