Faces of Christmas: Bao Valarie Xiong

December 24, 2013 

The basics: Bao Valarie Xiong, 30, is a medical assistant at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center. She is a single mother with a 9-year-old daughter living in Fresno.

What she does: Xiong started a personal project this year called Every Simple Dream to help make the wishes of needy and deserving people come true.

She started by buying prom dresses and shoes and paying for hair and makeup for two high school students, who couldn't afford it, to go to their prom.

This Christmas, Xiong created a list of people and organizations to help. While her donations are small, she hopes to touch as many people as she can.

Xiong donated $50 worth of nail polish to the Holy Cross Center for Women and gave food to the educational leadership food pantry at Fresno State.

Xiong also set out a donation box in the break room at work and asked for donations to make baskets with food for three needy families.

She filled each basket with a gift card for a turkey or ham, cooking pans, baking items like cake mix and frosting and canned goods like green beans, corn and canned pumpkin.

Why she does it: "I'm very passionate and driven," Xiong said. "I love to give and I love making other people happy. It motivates me and I want to be a good role model to my daughter."

The turning point: "I've always done volunteer work so I decided why not help other people in need to give them that boost, or help people going through a hard time," Xiong said.

Details, details: When Xiong isn't working or spending time with her daughter, she volunteers in the community. She has helped prepare dinner at the Ronald McDonald House and volunteers as the director of fundraising and coordinator with Revived Fashion Show, an annual Hmong New Year event featuring Hmong fashion designers.

Xiong would like to turn her project into a nonprofit organization helping families across the Valley. In addition to the dream prom next year, Xiong hopes to add other mini projects, including a Mother's Day pampering giveaway.

What others say: "I don't know if there's a Hmong woman of the year, but she's a great candidate for that," said Leena Mendoza, a friend and mentor who helped Xiong connect with businesses and people who could give time or donate their services to her projects.

How you can help: Anyone wishing to donate to Xiong's Every Simple Dream project can email everysimpledream@gmail.com.

--BoNhia Lee

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