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‘Giving back’ in the Philippines

Company, ValuesAlexandra Pentland, Gap Inc. blogger1 Comment

Opening our first Old Navy franchise store in Manila was an incredibly rewarding experience.

Playing musical chairs with 50 displaced pre-school kids was better.

After a hugely successful grand opening at the Bonafacio High Street store in Manila, 25 volunteers from our Old Navy team and our franchise partner climbed into a bus for a slow and bumpy ride to the rural outskirts of Manila.

After two hours, we finally arrived in the rain at Children’s Hour Preschool Complex in Calauan, Laguna.

Children’s Hour is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote education for all, to reduce malnutrition and hunger and to advocate child protection.

It’s basically a small and self-sustaining village they’re trying to build here — houses, a school, farming, a kitchen and a clinic for families who were displaced from living homelessly along the Pasig River in Manila.

Between downpours, we painted what we could of the complex, but the real fun started when 50 kids, ages 3-to-6 years old joined us for “social interaction.”

Shy at first, the kids started to warm up when we began fitting them with personal “slippers” (flip flops). It wasn’t long before we were playing a surprisingly competitive round of musical chairs and other local games. Our time with the kids ended after providing them with a warm lunch and giving them each a bag filled with goodies to share with their families.

“It was an honor and a privilege to work with Children’s Hour,” said Blair Dunn, General Manager, Old Navy Franchise. “Opening a store in one of the most fashionable districts of Manila is only part of the story. You need to see more of the country and its people. And give back, whereever you can.”

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