HONG KONG – The people of Hong Kong are widely known for their generosity. Proof of this is the annual banquet held by the International Care Ministries (ICM) which has been raising millions of dollars for the Philippines’ "ultra-poor" for the past years.
This year, ICM outdid itself by raising a record $2.04 million at its annual banquet on October 24 to help fund its operations across 9 bases and 23 provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.
One of the highlights of the event was the live auction of 3 hotly contested items, including a dinner for 8 hosted by Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo at her house, catered by well-known Philippine chef Margarita Fores. (READ: Philippines; Margarita Fores is Asia's Best Female Chef 2016).
After a frenetic bidding, professional auctioneer Joff van Reenen brought down the hammer at $19,139 for the highly-coveted donation of the Vice President.
Losing bidders were not to be outdone. Even before the event ended, two approached organizers with offers to pay the winning bid if VP Robredo agreed to host them as well.
The result was recounted by ICM’s chairman of the board David Sutherland in a later email: “We immediately contacted the VP and before 1:30 am, she agreed to accommodate 3 ICM dinners at her home for 3 different auction winners. I am impressed!”
While the amount raised from this one lot was substantial, it was just the tip of the iceberg. In just 5 hours, ICM managed to garner its record-breaking haul of $2,028,760 million ((P108 million) from its 2018 “Stepping Free from Poverty” banquet.
Sutherland said that this was the first time that ICM had crossed the $2-million mark. “This $2 million is about 25% of ICM’s annual cash funding needs – a great start to our funding year,” he said.
The bulk of the funds raised came from the event’s “Moment of Giving,” where 122 individuals contributed a total of $842,127 million (P46.2 million) in outright donations. By raising their number cards, guests pledged amounts ranging from $1,021 (P55,000) to $102,076 (P5.5 million), with nothing in return.
Another $216,929 million (P11.62 million) was raised from the evening’s silent auction of 115 items donated by artists, hotels, resorts, and corporations. The bidding took place in between the sumptuous 3-course dinner served that night.
The item that drew the most interest was a dinner with American pastor and theologian Tim Keller at New York’s Jean-Georges’ restaurant which, after 55 bids, went for a cool $9,698 (P520,000).
Trailing behind was a set of tickets to the Ellen DeGeneres show (billed as “priceless”), which went for $2,807 (P150,000) after 22 bids.
At the live auction, the two other lots sparked a bidding war which led to an additional $63,803 raised for ICM.
The first was skiing lessons and dinner for 10 in a ski resort in Niseko, Japan, with Polish ski mountaineer Andrej Bargiel, which went for the top bid of $20,417 (P1.09 million). A losing bidder who offered to match the price went home happy after getting the nod of the donor and the organizers.
The piece de resistance was a limited edition lithograph called “Impressions of Africa” featuring the handprint and signature of the late South African President Nelson Mandela. This piece was claimed for $31,901 (P1.71million).
Though the funds raised generated much fanfare and excitement, they took a backseat when it came to the beneficiaries of ICM’s programs.
Taking the limelight were Mary Jane, Nica, and Rizzel, young members of the ICM children’s choir who emceed the show; and Alexis, a 6-year-old boy who exchanged framed handprints with 13 donors, each contributing $40,000 to ICM’s Medical Mercy Fund which provides life-changing treatment and support.
Also in attendance were 3 dance groups from different regions serviced by ICM. Each group competed in the event’s “Stepping Free” dance showdown for a chance to win cash prizes totaling P675,000.
The Sugar Cane Warriors from Bacolod City emerged victorious after 500 guests placed their votes by phone. They were followed by The River Dancing Queens from Western Mindanao and finally, The Coco Mamas from Southern Mindanao.
Post-dinner and celebration, it was reported that all 3 teams were planning future business opportunities. The winners, The Sugar Cane Warriors, even made the decision to give 10% of their winnings to their ICM savings group which would further benefit their community in Bacolod City.
The evening was a delightful celebration not only of the NGO’s work but also of the generous donors who have helped make this happen.
Founded in 1992 by Hong Kong-based Singaporean interior designer Sharon Tang, ICM delivers support, training, and resources that allow their participants to progress out of poverty.
On its 25th year last year, ICM reached its one millionth family member through its core Transform program. It hopes to reach the next million beneficiaries by its 30th anniversary in 2023.
In the future, ICM hopes to continue extending help to other poor communities across the globe, and to work until no child has to live in ultra poverty. – Rappler.com