“At the end of the day when I’m tried and my knees hurt, a child comes out screaming, ‘This is the best day ever!’ which makes is all worth in.” Said Laura Juarez of Nativity Catholic Church in Washington, DC, where the event was held. Nativity is in a tough neighborhood where poverty and crime are common.
On December 9, they organized an “Angel for a Day” program for 100 kids and about 50 parents at Nativity, offering a Chuck E. Cheese’s style game room and an opportunity for local parents to get presents for their kids. Most of the volunteers came from the Leadership Training Program (LTP), a virtue-based mentoring program from Regnum Christi, designed to bring out the best in tomorrow’s leaders. Brandon, a high school student standing outside in the snow to direct traffic, was one of them. He is involved in LTP at his parish, St Raphael’s. “Now that I’m in high school, we’re doing camps here at Nativity to assist the poorer kids.” He continued, “It’s made me a better person because you never really understand your little bubble till you get out of it, and it’s life-changing to see everything else that’s out there and realize you can help them out.”
Ms. Juarez explained how events like this help her parish. “The effect of Angel for a Day is great because what we want is to attract more families, and to bring them, we need to begin with the kids. When the kids come, the families follow. The first time we had a youth day, families started to ask ‘When’s the next one? When will it be?’” She explained how this is important for that neighborhood, “The children don’t just come and play, but they’re also in a safe place and they are learning. We’ve found that the kids transmit this learning to their own parents.”
Jon, a young professional doing registration, said, “It’s been very edifying to be with a bunch of volunteers from all over who each radiate the joy of Christ. They’re all looking to celebrate Christmas and show what Christmas is all about… It is great to see children run around and have fun with the games, the three kings, the footballs, etc.”
In the games room, there were half a dozen different games set up where you’d win tickets. Another high school student named John was in charge of the prize bins where those tickets could be exchanged for trinkets. He explains how he got involved via Leadership Training Program, “We were presented with the idea of running this event about a month or two ago. We were told it would help local families who didn’t really have anything for Christmas. We decided to take advantage of the opportunity to serve and help organize it.” Regarding the event itself, he noted, “Everything seems to be going pretty well. Everyone seems to be enjoying it and you can see the children having fun at the games.”
Mrs. Kimberly Moore was one of the parents helping out with the gift room while her 15 and 17 year old children were working elsewhere. She explained how they got involved, “Br Luke Rawicki, LC, invited us to participate in a Thanksgiving mission in DC. We had such a wonderful time and it was such a great opportunity for my kids to give back to the community at large. My kids enjoyed it so much that I asked him for other opportunities for my four children to participate in events that help out, and he invited us to this celebration of Christmas charity.”
Both young men and young women involved in ECYD programs in the area had collected the prizes that were given out to the children. One young women even told her friends to get gifts for this event, rather than gifts for her on her birthday.
Br Andrew Torrey, LC, talked about his experience, “We were bringing the love of Christ to these people and being totally available to serve them with whatever they needed. Some were taken back by how much we wanted to serve them; some were naturally shy and weren’t expecting us to be so open and welcoming.”