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Sonrisas de Esperanza needs your help to bring smiles to faces of these Cuenca kids

Sonrisas de Esperanza kids with program sponsors and volunteers.

By Laurie Paternoster

It’s a classic story.

Every time Adrian passed the store window on his way to chemotherapy treatments, he pressed his face against the glass.

There, nestled among other eye-catching toys, was the remote controlled car he saw in his dreams. He stared longingly, before reluctantly yielding to the gentle tug of his single mother, giving up the dream for another day.

At Christmas, thanks to Cuenca’s Sonrisas de Esperanza, this 9-year-old’s dream came true. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

Sonrisas de Esperanza volunteers are preparing for Christmas.

Or for ensuring that 14-year-old Ximena, having lost a foot to cancer, met her goal of traveling from Santa Isabel to pray at the Cathedral in Cuenca. A simple wish, with life-changing results, also was granted by Sonrisas de Esperanza.

To fulfill similar dreams this Christmas, Sonrisas de Esperanza needs you. Spearheaded by Hogar de Esperanza and Hogar Emaus, and this year joined by Mesenjeros de Paz and Cetap Lucy, the holiday event is set for December 22 in the Seminary San Luis. The celebration in historic downtown Cuenca begins at 11 a.m. and includes a meal and a mass, concluding with a party and gift-giving at 4 p.m.

With the celebration expecting more than 200 children from at least 22 communities, granting wishes comes at a price. But for just $100, you can ensure one family’s participation. Donors are invited to meet the family and spend time with them at the party if they wish. Contribute today at http://www.hogaresperanza.org/en/donations or drop by Hogar Esperanza at Juan Montalvo 8-18 and Mariscal Sucre with cash donations.

To help with expenses, the Catholic Diocese approved a feria in the Seminary San Luis from December 17 to 21. Volunteers are needed to help with the feria, as well as to sort donations, create gift bags and canastas, and help on the day of the Sonrisas party.

Sonrisas attendees are based on the greatest need, and all families are recommended and interviewed by one of the organizations involved. Hospital and social workers also suggest participants.

Hogar de Esperanza is thankful for the support of the Catholic church, local universities and several high schools, as well as fire brigades and police that provide ambulances and security for Sonrisas de Esperanza.

Again this year, Hogar de Esperanza also will provide a free Christmas dinner to the homeless in Cuenca, as well as military personnel who are unable to go home for the holiday.

Hogar de Esperanza depends on the generosity of expats and sales through The Thrift Shop, located at the Hogar, to run its programs. The Hogar helps more than 350 impoverished families suffering from HIV and other illnesses annually. The thrift store is an important source of funding for Hogar de Esperanza. Donations and support are always welcome.

Please contact Clive Williams or Teresa Eklund at volunteer@hogaresperanza.org to request further information or to help with the event.