By Jazmin Rosa and Jessica Easthope
CORONA — The tradition of gift-giving on Christmas didn’t start with Santa Claus, but instead goes back to the Three Kings who traveled from the east to Jerusalem to give baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh.
That tradition continued on Jan. 5, when children from Brooklyn and Queens were given gifts of toys, games, books and clothing at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Corona — all thanks to the generosity of the readers of The Tablet.
More than $98,000 has been raised so far by The Tablet readers for this season’s Bright Christmas Fund, and $5,000 of that amount was donated to Our Lady of Sorrows for its annual Christmas event.
“[The event] helps with evangelization and catechesis, and The Tablet supported us with the Bright Christmas Fund, so I’m grateful to the readers who generously supported the fund, which supports so many parishes, including Our Lady of Sorrows,” Father Raymond Roden, the pastor, said.
“Today is the Feast of the Epiphany,” Father Roden said. “It’s a continuation of the celebration of Christmas. In particular, we celebrate the time the Three Kings from the east came to visit the child Jesus by following the star, and the beauty of the story wrapped around the mystery of the whole thing. We celebrate that today by reenacting the historical event and giving out gifts to children.”
A reenactment of the Three Kings story was followed by the distribution of gifts. In addition to presents for children, each parent was given a winter hat.
For some, the gift they received from the Bright Christmas Fund may have been the only one they received at all.
“We know a lot of families don’t have the money or the resources to provide a good holiday season for their children, so this helps a little with that and shows the children that no matter what they’re going through, the difficulty or struggles their families are going through, [that we are there for them],” Fanny Familia, a parishioner of Our Lady of Sorrows, said. “I think this helps bring a little bit of joy to their families, and that’s wonderful.”
Familia and her son Jeremiah picked out just one of the more than 1,000 gifts that were donated.
Ileana Martinez came with her daughter Arianna, 5. She said that what means more than the gifts to her is the sense of the community the event fosters.
“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,” Martinez said.