Young church members collect gifts for foster children

The Harare East District has enlisted the help of young church members to put smiles on the faces of underprivileged kids this Christmas season.

“It cannot be Christmas without bringing smiles to other people,” said the Rev. Gift Machinga, Harare East District connectional ministries director. “The focus is not on us, but others. It is not about how much food and clothes we have gathered for ourselves. It is about how much we have been able to share with others.”

In previous years, the district visited prisons with Christmas gifts, but this time church members wanted to plant a spirit of giving in children. The district’s church and society committee asked children to collect gifts in their local churches to give to less-privileged kids.

Members of the district visited Good Samaritan Children’s Home, a foster home in Harare, with gift boxes filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, apparel and candy.

“Christmas can be a difficult time for less-fortunate children living in homes as they may not have any relatives or friends to visit them and might not be able to take part in the usual Christmas activities that others will be enjoying,” said Zivorinashe Mujaji, church and society chairperson for the district.

“We decided to visit this home because it is small and has less recognition,” Mujaji said of the foster home, which began as a feeding program in 2007.

Good Samaritan houses 30 children ranging in age from 2 to 16.

Sixteen-year-old Obert Chikwato said he was very happy to receive a present.

“This is my first time to get a Christmas gift. I hope this favor will also be extended to many other children who are less privileged,” he said.

Gloria Light, 16, also thanked the church. “I am overwhelmed with joy (and) cannot thank you enough for the gift. I pray that one day I shall be able to give others as you have done to us.”

Sophia Tanyanyiwa, Good Samaritan Children’s Home founder, thanked the church for the visit and gifts. “Our children are happy and will always talk about you,” she said.

For several years, children in Zimbabwe had been receiving Samaritan gifts from abroad. This year, children the in Harare East District collected and packaged the gifts themselves.

The practice started four years ago with Cranborne United Methodist Church children gathering Samaritan gifts for children in their mission circuits.

“This is a great time of year to introduce Christmas traditions that involve giving to those who are less fortunate than you,” Mujaji said.

“In the year 2020, we are starting our campaign as early as January. Each child will establish an empty box at home and they will use this as a gift bank. With help from parents and family, children will deposit items regularly until Christmas,” Mujaji said. “This will strengthen the spirit of giving and teach children invaluable lessons on thankfulness and empathy.”

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Machinga encouraged the church to teach about giving so that it comes naturally.

“If children start practicing giving in early stages of their lives, it gradually becomes part of them and easily translates to a culture. Children need to be reminded always, through church school programs, that giving should not be restricted to Christmas time alone, but in all seasons.”

Eleven-year-old Makanaka Chikari, a member of the church’s children’s ministry, expressed joy in participating in the campaign. 

“I feel so blessed and honored to be part of the children collecting and giving gifts to other children who are less privileged,” Chikari said. “Being a less-privileged child is not a choice, so we should help those in need with whatever we have and, most importantly, we should show love and care toward them.”

Willard Chinguwa, Harare East District church and society executive member, described the campaign as a selfless act that will help transform the lives of many people this season.

“There is a vast need for help, and many souls can be won to Christ through this ministry,” Chinguwa said. “(A) Christmas gift donation to a child in need not only provides a tangible gift, but the unique feeling of being loved by someone.”

Machinga said that Christmas is God’s maximum expression of his love to humanity.

“God knew that by offering Christ, the world would change for the better. It is in light of this that Christmas is all about giving, love and joy.”

News media contact: Julie Dwyer, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5489. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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