Last week, I received a beautiful, early Christmas present. It came in the mail. The envelope contained a check and 24 letters for the Bright Christmas campaign. The first letter was written by Mrs. Janice Ray. It reads:
“I am a 4th-grade teacher at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Academy in Forest Hills, New York. In searching for service projects to prepare for Advent with my class, we decided on the Bright Christmas Fund sponsored by The Tablet. In the course of the first week, we collected $100.00 to donate to needy children and their families. The students also wrote letters to the Bright Christmas Fund introducing themselves and offering Christmas wishes. I am enclosing a check for $100.00 and all the letters they wrote.
“Many thanks for all you do. Have a very Merry Christmas filled with Christ’s blessings and a happy, healthy New Year!”
The other 23 letters, as Mrs. Ray says, were written by her students. They are addressed to the Bright Christmas Fund, and they speak directly to the children who are going to receive help from the campaign. Each one of them is a definition of the Christmas spirit. To read them is to renew your faith in humanity.
The true Christmas spirit is to share with others the many blessings we have received, especially the message of salvation that Jesus brought to the world. And that is exactly what Mrs. Ray has taught her students this Advent.
The Bright Christmas Campaign — as any charitable effort — has a twofold goal. We want to help the children of families in Brooklyn and Queens who would have a hard time celebrating Christmas without our help. Of course, that is the focus of our efforts. But the Bright Christmas Campaign also seeks to promote the true spirit of Christmas in the donors.
Donating to the fund not only helps the children who will receive the money that is donated, but it also brings the Christmas message alive to those who give.
When Mrs. Ray asked the children in her class to donate funds to help less fortunate children celebrate Christmas, she was teaching them one of the most important lessons you can learn in life.
Remember the Gospel’s parable of the rich young man. Who was Jesus trying to help when He asks the young man to sell his possessions and give them to the poor — the poor people or the rich young man? He is trying to help both.
Each act of generosity “saves” the person who benefits from it as well as the person who does it. And Mrs. Ray this Advent taught that all-important lesson to her students, as their letters show.
Yana, one of the students, wrote to the recipients of the Bright Christmas grants: “I and my classmates have hopefully saved up enough money for each of you to enjoy food and open a gift! I want all of you to have a great time and don’t give up.”
Thanks to Mrs. Ray, Yana and the other students of the class, there is now another reason for all of us — not just the direct recipients of their generosity — not to give up and keep spreading the message of Christmas.
Thank you, Mrs. Ray, as I thank all of our Catholic schoolteachers and students, for teaching us that lesson.
I hope many other readers of The Tablet will feel inspired by their example. If you want to donate to our Bright Christmas team, there is still time to do it. Just send your check to:
The Tablet’s Bright Christmas, 1712 Tenth Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.
And this year you have a new option.
Go to – thetablet.org
Find this link – DONATE: The Tablet Bright Christmas Fund
Click on the link to donate directly with your debit or credit card, or through PayPal.