Algarve Children’s charity ACCA works year round, fund-raising to support the causes it adopts. At Christmas, it ensured that more than 2,000 kiddies in need received a gift from Santa
Recognising the importance of an organisation that focused on meeting the needs of underprivileged youngsters, ACCA – the Associação de Solidariedade com os Crianças Carenciadas do Algarve – was formed back in 2000 by local residents Jane Oliphant, Andrea Viegas, Caroline Thompson, Mo Daud and Wanda Crawford. Their shared vision was clearly-defined – to help those unable to help themselves, and to make a difference to the health and well-being of children across the region, whether their need was for medical, physical or psychological support.
Today, the charity is run by a voluntary committee of ten, and deals with associations and institutions, orphanages, schools, churches and community centres and thousands of children, staging events that will generate income to pay for essentials such as vital medication, life-changing equipment, and dental work that leads to a life without constant pain.
Activities that secure much-needed income for the charity include an annual bike ride around Quinta do Lago, golf and bridge tournaments, Easter and Halloween parties, Christmas markets, and the biggest fund-raiser of all, the annual gala at the Conrad Hotel. The sale of sets of cards, produced in conjunction with ArtCatto, and regular
tombolas and auctions – made possible by the generosity of ACCA supporters – add to the funds that continue to expand the charity’s reach.
Be an angel
And one particular programme that has expanded beyond all expectations, is the end-of-year Angels project, which started in 2001. The concept itself is not unique, but its application here on the Algarve certainly is.
ACCA gathers together the names of youngsters from deprived backgrounds and whose families are living below the poverty line. These are children, from tiny tots to teenagers, who have never had a Christmas to celebrate, and almost certainly have never had a special gift that luckier youngsters have come to expect. The names come to the charity from The Salvation Army, orphanages, community centres, schools, sometimes Social Security offices and occasionally from parents themselves; every source is verified as reliable by a Committee member.
Then, early in October, ACCA approaches every contact available – from businesses to individuals to membership groups – requesting that they take names from the list and commit to buying a gift for a needy child. In its first year, the Angels supplied carefully-chosen and beautifully wrapped presents to 620 children. In 2018, for the Christmas just gone, the figure had risen to an astonishing 2,032.
Some supporters donate money to the scheme in which case Committee members and volunteer helpers do the shopping, wrapping and labelling – no small feat when the numbers are so high. Emails circulate between Committee members when special items are found. Meanwhile others – golfers for example, collect funds from fellow members, do the shopping, and then deliver sacks full of ready-wrapped presents to the main distribution point at Curiosa, the furniture store in Almancil where a dedicated area is racked up specially for the purpose.
And it is heartwarming to know that in the community here, there are dozens of Angels – the valuable volunteers who get involved. They could be estate agents, architects, hairdressers, restauranteurs, secretaries, shop assistants, you name it – and they share one thing… a wish to help the less fortunate.
According to Wanda Crawford, Chair of the Committee, volunteers are essential to ACCA’s work, not just for the Angels programme, but year round. All that’s required is a bit of time and a lot of passion. The rewards are immense – a little smile speaks volumes.
Interested in helping ACCA achieve its goals?
Call Wanda Crawford on 919 617 995