Nissa Clarkson moved to Canada from the Philippines decades ago, but she never forgot her home. For more than 20 years, Nissa and her husband Bob have returned each winter bringing toys, clothes and the gift of health. Nearly 400 children visit their resort at Christmas to receive toys from Bob, who dresses as Santa Claus. Every few years, with help from military doctors and dentists, they also host a medical-dental mission providing free treatments, medication and meals for nearly 1,000 people.
“When I became a REALTOR® in 1994, I noticed that my clients often downsized and had bags of items destined for the thrift store,” says Nissa. “My husband was also a REALTOR® and we asked our clients to save those items for poor kids in the Philippines.”
Prior to this winter’s visit, they collected 20 boxes of toys and clothing, which they sent via container ship at a cost of approximately $2,000. Nissa sets aside a portion of each realty commission to finance this cause.
“Thank you to all of my clients, who help to make this possible,” says Nissa. As the word spreads, others have come forward with donations. “Through this project, we met a very nice couple named Lorne and Barbara, who donate a huge number of stuffed toys.”
Whenever Bob and Nissa save up enough money, they also offer medical and dental care.
“The Philippine Army and Air Force volunteer their doctors and dentists, who provide medical and dental care for a day. Suddenly, we have a thousand people at our resort. We feed everyone and pay for medication.”
Surrey, B.C. is a world away from this nation of 7,641 islands bounded by the South China Sea on the west and the Philippine Sea on the east. Despite this, the Philippine villagers are like cherished family.
This story was adapted – with permission – from one originally featured on the Sutton Spirit website. The Sutton Spirit program recognizes Sutton associates across Canada that improve and enhance the lives of the people around them.