Faith,Home & Family,Life,Relationships

Teaching Luke to Give: Celebrating His 3rd Birthday at Gentle Hands Orphanage

Gentle Hands 2-min

Kids often equate their birthdays with receiving gifts. But what if we encourage them to do the opposite; to give instead of expect? Will it change the way they approach their birthdays? Will it change the way they approach others?

We decided to try. So for Luke’s 3rd birthday this year, we celebrated his special day with orphaned kids at Gentle Hands Orphanage.

Teaching Luke to Give

Gentle Hands 13-min

As we were thinking of making plans for his birthday, the Bible verse Luke 14:13-14 really spoke to me. It said “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind… although they cannot repay you...” (Disclaimer: Verse was cut shorter.)

Luke has been blessed with so much love and care over the years. He has also been blessed with a lot of material blessings. I know that if we hold a party for Luke, he would receive a ton of gifts. Although of course we are grateful, he honestly has more toys and things than he needs.

I have nothing against throwing big parties and gifts. In fact, we held the expected birthday bash on his first birthday. But we figured that this would be great opportunity to teach him more about compassion in action, as we do something more meaningful instead.

About Gentle Hands Orphanage

Gentle Hands 6-min

“Gentle Hands is a 24-hour Residential Care Facility that provides social work, medical, nutritional, home life, educational, recreational, adoption counseling and Christian living programs to orphaned, neglected and abandoned children in the Philippines.” (Learn more about the place here)

We were given a brief background by Neil who is in charge of all public relations activities at Gentle Hands. He explained that although events with the kids are very much appreciated, their real end goal is to eventually place these kids in loving families.

One of the problems they face is that not a lot of Filipino families are open to the idea of adopting. Most adoptions are from foreigners and that’s not ideal because believe it or not, there’s actually a limit per year to the number of foreign adoptions that can be made! At the same time, as the kids grow older, their chances of getting adopted also get slimmer. This is because most families prefer adopting babies or younger kids.

If you or if you know anyone thinking of adopting, kindly connect with Gentle Hands at this number +632-913-5540.

Painting Activity c/o Oli’s Boxship

Gentle Hands 15-min

Anyway, more about that special day! :)

On most outreaches, the kids are usually treated to games, prizes and a mascot visit from one of the big fast food chains. So we decided to do something different by partnering with Oli’s Boxship to present the kids with an arts and crafts activity.

Gentle Hands 17-min

Working on Oli’s Boxship is honestly one of Luke’s favorite activities. Whenever he would see a new box waiting at our living room, he would scream “MOMMY!! WE HAVE OWI’S BOXSHEEEP!”

So he was really so excited to share Oli’s Boxship with all the kids that day!

Gentle Hands 1-min

Each Oli’s Boxship box contained all the materials they needed for the activity. The kids also wore their own Oli’s Boxship aprons! They placed their initials in front of the canvas on their box using tape, and they painted away!

Gentle Hands 10-min

Some of the kids were very serious with their work…

Gentle Hands 3-min

…while some weren’t. Hahaha.

Gentle Hands 9-min

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Psalm 49:16) Stef of Oli’s Boxship shared this verse with us and it was such a good reminder of how Jesus loves all these children equally and that they are extremely precious to Him.

Gentle Hands 18-min

Ta-da! The finished product that the kids were able to take home!

For those wondering, Oli’s Boxship is a monthly arts & crafts subscription box. Luke loves it because he gets to do unique things. I love it because I don’t have to search for Pinterest for crafts haha! They have Oli’s Boxship Party Favors too, like what we did here! It’s so perfect for birthday parties (whether big or small!) and a great alternative to the usual loot bags.

Visit their page for more details or email them at

Storytelling Time!

Gentle Hands 5-min

While waiting for all the painted boxes to dry up, we had a storytelling session with Teacher Marie!

My good friend Marie is an amazing teacher who used to teach at Gymboree. She told me that even before I asked her to join us, she had already been praying to God for an opportunity to use her passion for kids for the glory of God. Funny how God answers our prayers when we seek Him with all our hearts. :)

Gentle Hands 14-min

Marie shared a book called “Okaka-Okaka: Ang Batang Palaka” It was here that I discovered that Luke didn’t know what the word “palaka” meant. Whaaat! Haha. I need to teach him more Filipino! Hehehe. (Palaka = “frog!”)

Gentle Hands 16-min

After storytime, Teacher Marie gave all the kids shirts! (Huhuhu super sweet!) Wanna see how much they loved them?

Gentle Hands 4-min

Awwww, look at those smiles! :)

Time to Eat Together

Gentle Hands 2-min

I know I already shared this photo at the beginning but I’m sharing it again here because it’s my favorite! Haha.

After all the fun activities, we had a simple merienda/early dinner meal. All the kids sat around in a circle and ate. Luke has NEVER eaten this way before, sitting down on the floor, but he happily joined the kids with no complaints even though we saw him struggling to bend just to reach his food! Hahaha.

I think he was also so happy to be allowed to sit on the floor without us scolding him that it’s dirty!

Gentle Hands 22-min

Seeing Luke interact with kids is always a joy for me. He’s not really used to being around kids. He has no immediate cousins his age to play with and top that with the fact that I’m currently homeschooling him. He’s honestly more used to spending time with adults, which can be both a good and a not-so-good thing.

That’s why the photo of him smiling at the girl is such a big deal for me. Hehe. Melts my heart.

Sharing Gifts

Gentle Hands 8-min

After his meal, we started distributing the gifts for the children. We gave the kids different personal care products from Safeguard, Tiny Buds and Johnson’s Baby. They also had some treats like Take 5 and Biscon Cookies and giant books from Tahanan Books. (Complete list of partners, and full thank you, below!)

Gentle Hands 23-min

Some stuffed toys made their way in as well! Hehe. Thanks Stef from Oli’s Boxship for giving the kids these toys!

Gentle Hands 20-min

At one point, Luke was teaching the kids how to make choo-choo trains out of the Safeguard bars. Haha.

Our Overall Experience at Gentle Hands

Gentle Hands 24-min

We did this because we wanted to accomplish two things: to be able to share our blessings to others and to model to Luke to do the same. I will never know how much our visit has made an impact on the kids, if at all, but it has definitely made a great impact on Luke.

Up until today, Luke always reminds us during his nightly prayer time to pray for the kids at the orphanage and that really touches my heart. My personal prayer is that he will grow up to be a compassionate man, genuinely generous, loving to people and caring for them without hidden agenda, just as Jesus did.

Thank you Gentle Hands for giving us this opportunity. It was really our family’s great privilege to spend time with you all.


Gentle Hands 12-min

For this event, we were able to partner with some of those brands that I’ve previously worked with. What a privilege it is to share all these wonderful products and gifts with the kids.


Orphanage Sponsors 2-min

Thank you Safeguard for being one of the firsts to give an emphatic yes to this project! Thank you for giving the kids bars of soap!

Safeguard is a part of our family’s lifestyle because it’s the only hand soap we trust that effectively keeps us germ-free! Luke even sometimes mixes the phrase “wash hands” with “Safeguard!” He would say “Mommy, is it time to Safeguard??” Haha.

Special thanks to Green Bulb PR for helping us coordinate!

Johnson & Johnson

Orphanage Sponsors 3-min

Thank you Johnson & Johnson for being extremely generous! Thank you for providing for ALL the 100+ kids in the orphanage with gift packs. We actually had a little trouble stuffing all 100+ bags in the car! Haha. Thank you so much! Luke was especially excited when he saw the Johnson’s Frozen shampoos! He still uses his Olaf/Kristoff shampoo too. Hehe.

Thank you also to our friends at Nuffnang PH for coordinating!

Tiny Buds

Orphanage Sponsors 4-min

Thanks Tiny Buds for all the naturally safe baby products you gave Gentle Hands’ little ones. Thank you for providing boxes of your Newborn Wash, After Bites Gel, Cotton Buds, and your Baby Tooth Gels (that Luke loves!)

We made sure that Twiga enjoyed his visit at the orphanage as well!

Tahanan Books

Orphanage Sponsors 5-min

Thank you Tahanan Books for giving three big books for the kids! We really believe in the power of learning through books and we’re excited to share these stories with them!

Nutri-Snacks & Stateline

Orphanage Sponsors 1-min

Thank you Stateline and Nutri-Snacks for the cookies and chips for the kids! Whenever we allow Luke to eat snack foods, he would always ask for his favorite Moby. Haha!

(PS. All the letter boards I used for the flatlays with Luke are from LetterBoxPH.)

Cocoon Studio

Gentle Hands 21-min

Thank you Cocoon Studio for working with us on this project. Almost all the cute photos on this blog post were taken by Cocoon Studio’s Dar. It was such a pleasure to work with you because we know that you are one of the best! (Did you know that Cocoon Studio’s team members are handpicked and trained by three of the country’s most sought-after wedding photographers: Pat Dy, Nelwin Uy, and Jayson Arquiza?)


Gentle Hands 11-min

For those who were present that day, we appreciate you all so much. Thank you for sharing your time and talents. Thank you Dar of Cocoon Studio, our good friend Marie for being our host and storyteller and for Stef of Oli’s Boxship for leading our painting activity! May God bless you all a thousandfold for your generosity.

“The one who is gracious to the poor lends to the LORD and the LORD will repay him for his good deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)

Connect with Gentle Hands

Gentle Hands 19-min

Should the Lord touch your heart to share blessings to the orphanage, you may reach them at the following:

Gentle Hands Inc.
27 F. Castillo Street, Project 4
Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines

If you want to send them an email, you may fill up their contact form here.

PS. All photos were published with the permission of Mr. Neil Costales of Gentle Hands, Inc.

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  • Reply
    February 13, 2018 at 11:24 am

    This was so thoughtful! Lovely to read and see how you’re caring for this community~


    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks Vivian, they were very wonderful actually!

  • Reply
    Len Parent
    February 13, 2018 at 11:30 am

    You are the cutest momma ever!!! Love all your photos!!!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Hope you’re having a great week!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 13, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks Len, have a great week!

  • Reply
    February 13, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Oh wow!! What an amazing post!!! What a lucky little guy to have such a wonderful mother teaching him what REALLY matters in life!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 13, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Aww thank you Gingi, such a sweet thing to say! That means a lot!

  • Reply
    February 13, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    This is such a thoughtful idea. I love the pictures.

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 14, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Thanks Courtney, our photographer did an amazing job!

  • Reply
    February 13, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    Wow! This is so inspirational! Really inspiring how you are giving back and serving. <3

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 14, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Thank you Emily, yes we try to be intentional in teaching that to our son! :)

  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 1:03 am

    This is so sweet!!!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 14, 2018 at 8:39 am

      Thanks Jennifer!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 4:01 am

    This is such a lovely idea! I’m really glad to see that there is a place where orphans find shelter. I hope each one of them finds a caring family.

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 14, 2018 at 8:44 am

      Yes it’s really a nice place to stay but it would be better if they were all placed in loving homes with a family who would take care of them. <3

  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 11:52 am

    So touching! I’m amazed on how you were able to give back to the less privileged children. May they grow up according to the will of the Lord. ????????

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 14, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      Amen to that!!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    What a lovely idea!! Love this post!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 15, 2018 at 8:45 am

      Thank you Mihaailo!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2018 at 4:47 am

    This is so inspirational! It looks like you all had such wonderful time! Also absolutely amazing photos! Thank you so much for sharing this experience!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 15, 2018 at 8:45 am

      Yes we really had an amazing time! Thanks Valerie!

  • Reply
    Susie | Mile High Dreamers
    February 15, 2018 at 11:27 am

    This post seriously tugged at my heart. What an incredible way to teach Luke about the power of giving rather than receiving. Those kiddos look so happy and free doing their crafts! We sometimes forget that kids are kids no matter their situation. A little love and help goes a long way!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 15, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks Susie, yes it was so nice to see the kids so happy. :) It was our privilege, really.

  • Reply
    Nina Nguyen
    February 15, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    This post was so inspiring!! Happy birthday to your little guy!
    xx- Nina

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 16, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      Thank you Nina! 😉

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 5:18 am

    This post is so sweet!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 6:28 am

    OMG, how ADORABLE is your little one?! I can’t handle it, lol! SO CUTE! And so are all these cutie pies you’ve shared here. I think this is a beautiful lesson you’re teaching him and one he will remember and will mold his character as her grows. You’re amazing, mama! Thanks for sharing and a very Happy Birthday to Luke!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 16, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks Jalisa! Yes they are all so adorable aren’t they? Haha! Thank you for the encouragement as well!

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    You are doing everything right with teaching Luke the right values! I hope from these experiences; he will turn into a fine man in the future. I am happy that Luke participated in giving back to kids in need and bless your family for being involved!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 17, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      Aww thanks Nancy, I really pray for that as well! <3

  • Reply
    Federica Di Nardo
    February 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    So much cuteness <3

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Wow this is such an amazing post hun you are just a wonderful mother, absolutely adore your method of teaching your son the right values in life!

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 18, 2018 at 9:19 am

      Thank you Lovely, that’s so sweet of you! <3

  • Reply
    the adventurer
    February 19, 2018 at 12:52 am

    What a kind and thoughtful way to celebrate his birthday =o) This was such a heartfelt post to read xx

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 19, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you so much! <3

  • Reply
    Colleen Dolan
    February 19, 2018 at 3:53 am

    Wow, this is absolutely beautiful!! I aspire to be like you when I decide to become a parent. You are incredible :)

    • Reply
      Sheena Sy Gonzales
      February 19, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      Aww thanks Colleen! That’s really sweet of you!

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