There is a youth group I volunteer to care for that meets almost weekly in different chapels surrounding our parish.
The members are not the regular iPod- and PSP-toting kids who hang out at malls and live chauffer-driven lives. My kids, although mostly in school and living with their families, sometimes have to skip classes because they don't have enough money for their project, fare, or lunch. It breaks my heart every time I think about it, but such is life, and I, together with the core team of adult and youth leaders, try to help them as much as we can by supporting them in their Christian journey.
We had our last general assembly for the year in November, as we are taking a break this December, for most of the kids would be busy then with their respective church choir activities - Simbang Gabi masses, caroling, and Christmas parties. While we were saying goodbye, the kids asked me, "Ate, wala ba tayong Christmas party sa Youth Alive?"
I looked at the other core team members and we all sadly shook our heads. The Knights of the Altar, the Junior Choir, the BNP Choir, the OLA Choir, and the scholars would each have their own parties, we said. They said they wanted to be with the whole group (all 200 of them? I thought) and besides, "IT WAS CHRISTMAS!" I felt the same way, as if the last three words explained it all.
I approached Fr. Steve and he said the YA had been blessed already the past year, especially in the summer, so there was no real need for another big party, especially if we were not able to raise funds for it previously.
I texted my friends that if they were looking for a cause to support this Christmas, I had two suggestions - Youth Alive, and Noah's Ark (the charity my office is donating to this Saturday). One of my friends replied that she had tons of clothes and the kids could have a rummage sale to raise funds. I agreed to meet her to pick up the clothes, and we had a long-overdue lunch and coffee. We shared about our lives and what we were doing. In the middle of that late lunch, she blurted out that she was giving me money (a HUGE amount, by my standards) for the youth. She said she wanted a real party for them, not spaghetti with catsup, but real food, "something that you and I would eat". I was overwhelmed and cried on the spot!
Another friend of mine, let's call him Willie Wonka, sent me boxes of chocolate-covered pretzels for my two "charities" this Christmas. I could not believe how generous people could get. I was just thinking of a simple party at the back of the church - with sandwiches and juice. Now the kids were getting a Christmas party to remember. The core team immediately came up with plans on how to wisely spend the donation, and we're very excited about the ideas that now need a little bit of execution.
I know we should be doing something for them every day of the year, but with more reason, the coming of Jesus this Christmas just makes me want to have an extra special time with the kids - whether they be the kids on the street, at Noah's Ark, at He Cares Foundation, or at Youth Alive Manila.
As for the two kids closest to my heart - my nephews - I have a surprise for them as well. Wink. Wink. They might read this blog and get too excited.