There's little better than seeing a smile on the face of a happy child.
Now imagine 1,463 smiling children, and you'll have some idea of what the Smile Colombia Foundation is all about.
Over the past three years, the foundation has helped that many impoverished children across nine Colombia communities — providing backpacks, school supplies, educational seminars, scholarships, recreational activities, medical care and family workshops. Last year, the charity helped pay for a children's playground and soccer field.
On Thursday, you can give more children a reason to smile. The local charity is hosting its third “Gala for Smiles: Emerald Night” to raise money to fund its efforts in the troubled South American country.
The event includes a
The “gala became our most meaningful fundraising event in 2010,” said Edwin Amaya, the charity's founder, in a news release. “The funds collected were used to help more than 400 children with educational supplies, infrastructure improvement, health outreach and leadership building activities.
“These programs generated hope and much-
In some parts of Colombia, smiles are hard to find.
“Paramilitaries, guerrillas, drug violence and street crime have created an atmosphere of fear and instability,” the foundation's website says. “This hostility, along with lack of access to education, forced displacement, social injustice and weak governmental support ... are all contributing factors to the excessive poverty found in the country today.
“The lack of employment has generated high destitution, where 64 percent of the population lives in poverty. ... The lack of education has consequently led to a perpetual state of poverty and conflict, evidenced by starvation, teen pregnancy, prostitution, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and crime.”
Most funds raised by the foundation go directly to helping Colombia's children. Amaya's group is composed solely of volunteers.
If you go
Individual tickets to the gala are $40 in advance and $45 the night of the event. Sponsorships range from $110 to $880.
The gala will be from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday at the Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market, 311 S Klein Ave. For more information or tickets, go to smilecolombia.org, email info@smilecolom