Christmas for Peru was magical this year! 16 Americans traveled to San Juan de Lurigancho to spread holiday cheer, which started with hosting traditional Peruvian Christmas Parties called Chocolatadas. These parties spread joy not only to the children, but also to the parents who are smiling ear to ear because their kids get to feel the excitement of Christmas, which most are not able to provide for their kids. With the help of our generous donors, Make a Miracle funded Chocolatadas for over 2,500 children.
A highlight of our trip was passing out more than 400 pairs of new, leather sneakers. A mom from the special needs school we were at pointed out that her son was wearing his shoes from last Christmas. "He has worn them all year, and they are still in good shape!" We saw many kids wearing the ones from last year, and since they are all growing these new shoes came at the perfect time. Our 62 scholarship students all received a watch, a custom water bottle, and a certificate for a turkey for Christmas dinner. They all loved their gifts, and one student in particular confided that her family didn't have the money for a turkey this year, and because of Make a Miracle they would be able to partake in a traditional Christmas dinner.
One of the sweetest events we hosted was the Christmas dinner with Pat's Place. We enjoyed delicious food under the stars (and Christmas lights!) Our team shared some stories to show the true meaning of Christmas to the residents of this shelter for abused women and children. We gave them all presents that fulfilled everything on their Christmas wish list. It was so amazing to play Santa Claus and see the delight we brought to them all. One little girl who acts as her blind mother's eyes, was given a candy cane. Immediately she asked for another, and when she was told it was one per person she insisted that her mother should have one too. Her mom later confided in us that she used to be scared when the teams came to Pat's Place. Now, she said, "I feel so much love from the Americans, and I thank you for making me feel accepted and special. My daughter and I have healed and grown so much since arriving at Pat's Place almost 3 years ago. I have no words for my gratitude." Although we went down to Peru to "bring Christmas," we in turn received as much out of it as them, if not more. Christmas is about helping those in need. It's about selflessness. Christmas is love.