Once again this year our beloved Lorena (long-time member of our administrative staff) organized the creation and delivery of Christmas gift baskets. The basket contains Red Delicious apples, cookies and traditional Christmas sweets, as well as some basic kitchen staples. Our Christmas-in-a-basket tradition started a few years back when we realized that many of our families were struggling to feed their families during the three weeks our program was closed. But even though the basket has items like cooking oil and nutritious grain drinks, the intention is more than just practical. We make a point to fill it with holiday treats knowing that these same families will likely not have the means to celebrate Christmas and we want them to know they are not forgotten. Hard to believe that so much joy can be shared for about $30! Our deepest thanks to everyone who supports Education and Hope making special moments like these possible. In a separate post I’ll share photos of the individual families and the words of thanks they showered on those who made these baskets possible, but here are Lorena’s reflections about the day.
Merry Christmas, Julie! I wish with all my heart that God will repay your every act of kindness and love, all you do on our behalf. Today we delivered the Christmas baskets and I am filled with so many emotions. These last few days have been full of happiness, surprises, and also deep sadness for a few of our families experiencing very difficult times.
I wanted you to know how extremely grateful we are that you have made it possible for us to bring these baskets to our families for another Christmas season. The amount of work putting the baskets together is the same, the time we devote to this project is the same, but each year we we are filled with even more joy as we witness the emotion of our families. They receive us with open arms, smiles of happiness and gratitude on their faces, thankful that we are paying them a visit and sharing a tiny bit of their lives. In every house we hear how blessed each family feels to be part of Education and Hope: the blessing it is to know you and feel your love, the blessing of the many ways they are supported. Above all, they feel blessed that someone would be remembering their needs during the holidays. Such great laughter and tears of joy, and so many hugs shared with us, each time reminding me how powerful a feeling it is to help one another.
I am so grateful to you to have had this opportunity again this year. Without you and the work you do none of this would be possible. We have such a great team! Fernando and Joel are always eager to help me put the baskets together and deliver them. Enma Lorena was a great help in purchasing all the items we needed. I know that each one of them is guided by their hearts as we set out, and that each of our baskets is not only filled with nourishment but also happiness and affection.
There were so many memorable moments but arriving unannounced at the home of Alfredo, Darlyn and Margarita was just incredible. We were bursting with excitement because it was our first time visiting them and they had no idea why we had suddenly appeared at their door! When little Alfredo saw the basket filled with red apples, sweets, cookies underneath a giant bow, I can hardly find the words to describe it… his smile when he saw us, the shine in his eyes, the way his little heart was beating so fast… it was all so moving. I can still feel the way he squeezed me so tight around my neck, whispering in my ear, “Please tell Julie THANK YOU! And that I’m sending her TWO KISSES!” Darlyn and Margarita were also speechless, especially at the sight of Fernando and Joel who had put on Santa hats for the occasion. An afternoon warmed by the sun, the extreme poverty of their home, a Christmas basket offering and three faces overflowing with happiness: it was picture perfect. I give thanks to God and to you allowing me to be part of this moment.
I know that this year has been a difficult one for many of our families, but I know that the light Education and Hope is in their lives has helped to make the burdens more bearable: whether it’s because they have the opportunity to earn a living, through the support of a scholarship, or just the simple fact that they belong to our great Education and Hope family.
Merry Christmas to you, dear Julie!