Community Christmas Events
Christmas time is a festive season in Mexico, and time for celebration with family and friends. But for those caught in the tenacious grasp of poverty, unemployment, and the desperate struggle to feed their families, it can be an even more difficult time of despair and hopelessness.
As each year comes to a close, Proyecto Refugio A.C. distributes hundreds of roasted chickens, along with a special Christmas food package, to the same amount of needy families. The chickens are roasted by an industrial kitchen, and professionally packaged to retain their flavor and quality.
This roasted chicken and the special Christmas food package is PRAC’s way of wishing these needy families a “Happy Christmas” by making it possible for them to enjoy, in the privacy of their humble homes, a special Christmas dinner with their loved ones.
Previously, on consecutive Christmases, PRAC would invite 3000–3500 of these underprivileged community members to attend an all-you-can-eat Christmas Banquet hosted at a rented park, with catering provided by three of the best local restaurants. The special menu included barbecued chicken and beef, beans, rice, tortillas, salads, bread, and beverages. Live music was provided throughout the event for everyone’s enjoyment.
Local television, covering one of the events, interviewed a wheelchair-bound beneficiary of a free meal, who was heard to comment: "It is not only the food, or the drinks or the entertainment; it is the love that you feel from these people!" For the members of Proyecto Refugio A.C. in Guadalajara, this statement is a welcome confirmation that the program’s goals are being achieved.
Children's Christmas Events
The children who eat at the free dining hall, “Comedor El Refugio”, receive special attention from PRAC every year at Christmas. For many years, on “King’s Day” (a Mexican holiday on January 6th), thousands of toys were distributed to needy children, reaching an all time high of 30,000 in 2001.
Since 2003, the gift giving has been included with the special Christmas dinner event held for the regular beneficiaries of the hot meal program.
The event begins with a retelling of the Christmas story, to remind the children of the real meaning of Christmas. Then a sumptuous dinner is served to the 200 children, consisting of roast beef, chicken, ham, and roast turkey with all of the trimmings, followed by a cake dessert.
After the feast, each child receives a gender/age appropriate Christmas gift, plus a set of warm pajamas and a bag of candy.
Children's Day Events
Similarly, on Children’s Day, April 30th, a comparable event is hosted every year. A special meal is prepared and served to 200 children, be it hot dogs (as in upwards of 500), hamburgers or pizza, with fruit juice.
Fun games, music and songs make this a lively and interactive event for all. The program ends with each child receiving a special gift.
To these poor children -- who normally never receive a toy or gift all year long, neither on their birthdays nor during Christmas --these are special occasions indeed.
Project Manager Chrispin says, “It is always such a joy to see their expectant little faces light up with a cheery smile of sincere appreciation and thankfulness when they receive their gifts. It makes us feel extremely privileged to be the ones chosen to experience this dramatic exchange.”
Volunteers contribute their time and efforts to serve food and drinks, and provide entertainment or a friendly conversation, helping to make these events a special and memorable occasion for all.