Everyone associates the Christmas holidays with warmth, peace and family. Gathering the entire family at the table to thank God for the past year and to ask for His love and support in the year ahead is an ancient tradition.
“Working with families in crisis, and with homeless and disadvantaged young people and children, we realize that it would be unfair to leave them alone during the Christmas holiday. It is not the first time that Caritas Ternopil’s Mobile Work with Young People organized Christmas Eve Supper for their clients, but this year things were a little different.
Long before Christmas our clients expressed their desire to organize the Christmas Eve event. They had quite a creative approach.
They put on a Nativity play which staff and other Caritas clients saw for the first time on Christmas Eve,” explains Olya Khil’ko, a social worker at Caritas Ternopil.
Nearly 30 young people joined staff from the local Caritas for a traditional Christmas Eve supper. After Fr. Andriy Marchuk said a prayer, everyone carolled. The atmosphere was festive. Some youngsters were happy that they had a part in a play for the first time, others rejoiced that they brought joy to those less fortunate then they, and others still were most impressed by the fact that traditional homemade Christmas Eve dishes were prepared especially for them.
Everyone was happier and luckier on this day. Our clients felt that someone cared for them; volunteers and staff members were once again convinced that there is unbridled joy in creating joy for those who rarely experience it.
Fr. Andriy Marchuk reported on other holiday events carried out by Caritas Ternopil: “With the help of local sponsors we were able to purchase the necessary grocery items for the holidays and make up gift baskets for 24 families and 6 homeless young people. Most of those who receive gift baskets are unable to purchase the necessary items for the holidays because most of their money is spent on housing or medicines.
In order to spread the holiday spirit, we decided not to simply distribute these gift baskets but to give them out during a Christmas concert prepared especially for these families and children. Young clients from the Mobile Work with Young People performed; they were the creative force behind this concert. They sang carols and performed short plays.
We also invited Mariya Chubar, winner of the nationwide contest Volyn Kobzaryk. Everyone was enchanted as she played the bandura and sang carols. The end of the celebration was improvised. One mother read the poem Remember Your Mother which naturally moved everyone who had gathered. We felt God’s care, love, and the birth of the Saviour.”