By Jessica Easthope
The tradition of giving gifts on Christmas didn’t start with Santa Claus, but with the three wise men who traveled from the East, following a star to baby Jesus.
On Jan. 5 there was no gold, frankincense or myrrh from the Magi, but there were toys, games, books and clothing for hundreds of children from across the Brooklyn Diocese.
Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Corona, Queens hosted its annual Bright Christmas event, a day funded by The Tablet through the generosity of its readers.
Gathering on the day before the Feast of the Epiphany, children and their families received what may be their only gifts this holiday season. In addition to every child receiving a gift, all parents were given warm winter hats.
“They supported us with the Bright Christmas fund to set up the whole program,” said Father Raymond Roden, Pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows. “So I’m grateful to the Tablet and the readers, the people who so generously support the Bright Christmas fund which includes so many parishes including Our Lady of Sorrows.”
Parishioners also put on a colorful and theatrical reenactment of the historical feast day ahead of the gift distribution.
“A lot of families don’t have the money and the resources to provide a good holiday season for their children, especially showing their children no matter what they’re going through the struggles and difficulties, this brings a little bit of joy,” explained parishioner Fanny Familia.
Fanny and her son Jeremiah picked out just one of more than 1,000 gifts that had been donated this year.
For Ileana Martinez — who came with her fiver-year-old daughter Arianna Summerlin, a student at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy —the day itself meant more than the gifts.
The value of the celebration could be found in the sense of the community the event creates.
“I’m very thankful for it because It shows the love for people in the community and those involved in the community and it unites us,” Fanny said.