PERTH-HURON – The Multicultural Association of Perth-Huron (MAPH) is delivering Christmas cheer to families in the region.
“This is a very special day for our newcomers,” said MAPH Founder Gezahgn Wordofa. “There is a lot of new families arriving in town. We’ll be giving out toys for kids. They are very excited. We have winter clothes, boots, hats and mittens too.”
He said that both participation in and watching Santa Claus parades has been very enjoyable for many of the newcomers in the area.
“This is a good time for us, we are happy,” said Wordofa. “We also want to say thank you to the local community who is supporting us. People have donated toys. We want to fill these stockings for the children.”
The MAPH will still be collecting and distributing Christmas donations into January.
Many Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate Christmas Day on or near Jan. 7 because their churches use the Julian Calendar to figure out when their holidays are.
Some of the countries that celebrate Christmas in January include Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Egypt, Bulgaria, Serbia, Belarus, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Georgia and Moldova.
“That’s why we are giving gifts into January,” said Wordofa. “So if anyone has leftovers they can give them to us. We are blessed to get these donations.”
For some newcomers, Christmas itself is a new experience.
“Some of our newcomers who came from refugee camps, they don’t know Santa except maybe by TV or movies,” he said. “They are happy and they believe how strong Santa is. Santa hugs them and they are very impressed. We are very blessed with how kind Santa is when he meets us. I’m very impressed. We’re very excited for the holiday.”
Wordofa emphasized that some of the things newcomers are asking Santa for are winter boots, hats and coats.
“If someone buys extras we are happy to get these things,” he said. “Winter is coming on, many people are underprepared.”
People who would like to donate can contact the MAPH at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.maph.ca or search @multiculturalperthhuron on Facebook.
“Because of COVID, we are asking the community only to donate new toys,” said Wordofa. “That is important. It’s a health unit requirement. We have lots of toys but we still need more.”
Other items that people can donate are feminine hygiene products, masks and canned or non-perishable food.
“We are still helping people who want to get vaccinated or have COVID tests.” He said. “We just want the best Christmas for everybody including new families in the area. Thanks so much to the whole community for supporting us, for helping us, looking after us. Now we can say this is our home. We want to be part of the community – a community of everybody including us.”
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner