Taipei American School Orphanage Club History The Taipei American School Orphanage Club (TAS OC) is the largest student organization at TAS, with 150 members and 15 committees run by over 20 officers and committee chairpersons. Orphanage Club is unique because it is the only club on the campus that welcomes both middle and high school students, ranging from the sixth to twelfth grade.
The club’s founding was the result of a fluke in 1970 when the Taipei International Women’s Club erroneously omitted Chung Yi Orphanage from its list of invitations for a Christmas event. Thus, Barbara Sharp, then a high school senior, created the Orphanage Club to host a party for the orphans neglected by the blunder. Since then, Orphanage Club has raised and distributed close to US$2,000,000 to help needy deserving children and orphans in Taiwan as well as around the world. In the local community, the club has helped St. Benedictine Orphanage in Tamshui, Gladys Aylward’s Home, St. Anne’s Orphanage, the Taipei Municipal Welfare Center, the Children’s Christian Fund, the Mustard Seed Home Foundation, World Vision, and Lourdes Orphanage. Orphans in Kenya, Philippines, Zimbabwe, and Cambodia have also benefited from the club. At the same time, physically handicapped children, as well as students unable to afford tuition expenses, are among the various individuals who have also received Orphanage Club assistance.
Once a month, club members prepare outings for Catholic Welfare (Cathwel) and Chung Yi Orphanage, which take place on Saturdays and Sundays respectively. Members taking part in these two monthly projects pair up with the babies or children and take care of them as if they were their own siblings. The committee taking care of Chung Yi Orphanage is also responsible for holding the Pearl S. Buck Christmas Party every December. At the party, over 200 children from the Pearl S. Buck Foundation in Taipei come to our school and enjoy their Christmas holiday with a splendid hot meal, entertainment, and gift packages.
Not only does the club care for needy children, but it also assists underprivileged families. During the Chinese New Year, the club prepares food parcels and other holiday necessities for families throughout Taiwan. Members also pack more than a ton of individually wrapped packages containing clothing and toiletries for disadvantaged individuals on Orchid Island. A ton of rice, cooking oil, and soy sauce is additionally shipped to Orchid Island people. The clothing is then mailed to the Philippines, Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, and Tze-Chi, a Buddhist non-profit organization that accepts donations before forwarding them to needy people around the world.
Twice a week, Orphanage Club members instruct English to students at Taipei Municipal School for the Visually Impaired. On Mondays, 20 elementary blind students come under the tutorage of some 40 volunteers, while on Fridays, about 70 members assist 35 students in their English preparation for their college entrance examinations. Once every year, the blind students are invited to TAS to experience what it is like to learn and live in an English-speaking environment. Through interactions with TAS students, they have improved their English proficiency and broadened their social circles.
Without regard to boundaries, Orphanage Club has provided humanitarian aid for institutions and organizations around the world. Held twice a year, the Hunger Day is a highly anticipated activity that brings a global perspective to TAS community by alerting its students to anti-hunger issues and the need to raise funds for this cause. This event encourages teachers, students, administrators, staff members, and parents to fast and offer donations, which are sent to organizations including Oxfam America, American Friends Service, and World Vision Taiwan. After a devastating earthquake hit Taiwan in 1999, the club donated NT$1,000,000 (about US$34,000) to the Puli Christian Hospital, which was located near the epicenter. Later, the club even set up a fund at this institution, to which OC annually contributes NT$105,000 (US$3,000) to assist aborigine children. Through Holt International, the club has lent a helping hand in many more corners of the world: Providing US$300 annually, the club sponsored a little boy in Guatemala, the first recipient of assistance in this project. Since then, the club has supported more than 8 children through Holt International and is currently sponsoring a young child in Vietnam. The club has also given contributions to needy children in countries such as those in Zimbabwe and Kenya whose parents have died of AIDS (US$20,000), earthquake victims in Turkey (US$1,000), and an Australian-run orphanage in Cambodia.
Earning money on its own through numerous sales to fund extensive projects, the club does not receive any financial support from TAS. The club’s largest fundraising project is the annual raffle drawing, followed by a silent auction. Coming a close second are the rummage and book sales, which net in a total of over US$10,000 in annual profit for the club. To augment other incomes, OC designs and sells a variety of TAS sweatshirts and T-shirts and organizes games of chances during school fairs. It also hosts regular Hallmark sales to aid leprosy patients in outer islands around Taiwan.
Over the years, OC members have not only learned to solve problems, govern themselves, and develop leadership, but they have gained a global perspective from their working experiences. Those arranging outings for orphans and teaching blind students have a better chance to learn how to take care of other people. Most importantly, the club teaches members that all individuals are equal and that there are always those who need our help regardless of their gender, age, social status, race, and background.
The Taipei American School Orphanage Club salutes those businesses, individuals, and organizations whose supports have allowed the club to grow into such an important group for thousands of people in need. Without their help guiding us from the past to the present, the club would not be as successful as now. All the OC members wish to thank every single individual who has put in effort assisting our club in the past thirty-five years.
We invite you to visit our student-maintained website at http://come.to/tasoc, which includes our upcoming events, committee descriptions, and other information regarding our various projects.