A Community Christmas
December 30, 2020
It was that time of the year again. The time to celebrate and cherish life, family, gifts, vacations, and blessings. It was also the time of the year for giving and one of my favorite Lions Clubs activities: the Christmas breakfast for children in struggling communities. This event is special to me because it brings us all together early on December 24th during morning mass (always ready to serve at 5 am!) and then we get to see the smiles on kids’ faces. It is inspiring and fulfilling.
Full disclosure: I am currently living in Nicaragua, a country where we have been struggling with political and economic turmoil for over three years, plus COVID-19 on top of that, which I know has affected all of us globally.
The current situation is not ideal by any means. In November, we had multiple club meetings to discuss the possible cancellation of our annual Christmas breakfast. However, we were all in agreement—we were not ready to cancel our beloved event. The kids did not deserve that. So, we decided to host our activity by modifying our process. For example, we changed the way we packaged the food we gave out to make it safer and easier to take home. Not only did we decide to hold our annual event, but we also decided to hold two special activities that day. Unbelievably, we ended up doing three activities on the same day, all of which provided hot meals for kids and their families, and even a few gifts!
As mentioned, the pandemic has had its effect here just like everywhere else. Understandably, our main contributors were not able to provide donations this year. Donations and contributions have been drastically down. So, toys for gifts were not a planned part of our activities and neither was socializing. Yet, someway, somehow, things worked out. We ended up receiving donations from unexpected donors and the rest was provided by pulling together some of our resources, like friends, and finding vendors that gave us great discounts. What we ended up with was a wonderful and busy day with three great activities of giving.
The Christmas Breakfast
We were ready before 5 am with enough prepared food for up to 500 people. We didn’t have the planned 500 in attendance, but that allowed us to serve people a lot more food and gave the church an opportunity to keep some food stored for serving people in the next few days. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, we couldn’t really interact with the kids or get to know them. Despite that, this activity was executed exceptionally well and followed all the new safety protocols. It was truly a job well done and I’m so glad we didn’t feel obligated to cancel what turned out to be three amazing events.
A Second Serving
Our second activity was another breakfast at 9 am on the opposite side of town. We set up to serve at a restaurant owned by a Lions Club member and his sister. The siblings prepared the entire place just for the guests that were going to show up—about 150 kids. These kids were special because we found them through others we knew, who guided us to them in a very poor sector of town. We were very grateful to have received full attendance, and to everyone’s surprise, we gave out stuffed animals, and had ice cream and cake for dessert! Yes…ice cream and cake before noon!
Our Surprise Third Activity
I am a firm believer that when you do good things, good things come back to you. This year, our surprise was the ability to carry out another giving activity. We received a donation for the purchase of 200 pizzas slices, with one caveat: to give them out in yet another part of town. We accepted and decided to carry it out as the finale to our busy day. Using part of another big donation we received, we were also able to get soda to go with the pizza. We were set! I personally had to come back to work and did not participate, but a few Lions were free and able to carry this out without hesitation. This third activity may not have been as elaborate as our other breakfast activities, but it was just as meaningful. We were so happy to have provided another 200 unexpected meals that day. This wonderful surprise added to our objective of feeding as many kids as possible right before Christmas. Ultimately, this was a full day of service and giving…the true meaning of Christmas.
I am pleasantly surprised at how things turned out this year: we fed more kids than planned and more kids than the previous year. 2020 has been full of surprises good and bad, but that does not mean we need to give up and shy away from doing good. It means we need to focus on what is truly important and find new ways to get things done. Call it a Christmas miracle or not, but when you do good, good things come back in unexpected ways.
If you are unsure of what Lions Clubs is and want to know more, please check out our previous post where I talk about my participation in the club and what it means to me. Additionally, feel free to like my club’s Facebook page to keep up with us and our events.