Imagine: It’s a week before finals and a couple of weeks before graduation. You come home a mess, battered from trying to survive all the demands of school. You come home relieved, even if you have trouble catching your breath. But just as you reach the door, your father greets you with the news: “Ibebenta na ‘yung bahay [natin],” (Our house is going to be sold) and the landlord wants you to move out in a week.

Suddenly, finals, graduation, and rest don’t matter anymore. In an instant, you’re no longer a struggling student, you’re now a homeless drop-out.

This sort of tale may seem like the stuff of fiction, but it happened to the 17-year old Charles “Charlie” Dingal, a student of Nagpayong High School in Pasig City. Charlie and his family have been renting a shanty in Dilang ever since he could remember. It was all they could afford for their family of eight. Charlie’s father is  a machine operator in Sta. Mesa, and his mother is a housewife.

They had nowhere to go except for the piece of land they had in the nearby sitio, Arienda. But it was just that – a piece of land. They still had no house. They couldn’t afford to pay for construction, either. They had to make do with what they had. Charlie took it upon himself to drop out of school and help his father in building the house. After all, he was the only one out of 6 children who had experience in construction work.

It was summertime when they started working on the house, and it took a toll on Charlie’s health. His frail body was not ready for the heavy construction work, which they had to do for 3 months under the hot, scorching sun. He often felt dizzy and sometimes, he came home with blood dripping from his nose. Every day was a challenge, but it had been fruitful.

Not long after they moved into their new home, Charlie started attending Christ’s Glory Ministries church, one of Operation Blessing’s partner churches. Pastora Cynthia Echevarria, one of the leaders at Christ’s Glory Ministries has high regard for Charlie; he attends service regularly and is active in church events. He is now back in school, and is a competing athlete. It seemed like everything was good again.

But after everything that happened this year, Charlie isn’t looking forward to celebrating the holidays. He says that he still feels saddened from what they went through. The construction work really stripped off their resources, and Christmas, it seemed, was yet another problem.

But much to his surprise, Charlie received a Noche Buena gift bag from Operation Blessing during its Holiday of Hope and Cheer event at Christ’s Glory church.

With the help of our partners, celebrating Christmas becomes possible again for families like Charlie’s. Help us reach more Charlies by #GivingGiftsThatLast. Know how you can help through this link: