USA (MNN) — If someone wishes you Merry Christmas next month, chances are that person is part of For Haiti With Love’s fundraiser program known as Christmas in August.
For more than thirty years now, FHWL has held a Christmas party for children in Haiti. The kids have a chance to receive a full hot meal that includes dessert, which in itself is a rare treat, as well as participate in a program that tells the story of Christ and His miraculous birth. They will even get a chance to sing Christmas carols in their native language, Haitian Creole.
In addition, what’s a Christmas party without gifts? The children will receive toys and other presents during the event, making this one of the only times they receive something they want. Food and clothes are important, true, but only a few times a year are the kids actually allowed to enjoy themselves. At the party they receive coloring books, dolls, cars, card games, and more. In fact, FHWL even produces a special coloring book written in Creole that tells the story of the Messiah’s birth.
Even the adults receive a few gifts. Guests to the Christmas in August dinner can donate watches, sewing kits, toiletries, and more, and teenagers can receive soccer balls and school supplies as well. However, on a lighter note, they won’t accept blunt scissors; the Haitians think they’re funny and won’t ever use them!
FHWL needs a way to fund the party, raising money to purchase food and toys for the event. So, every year, they throw an event called Christmas in August. This takes place in Florida and consists of a dinner and an auction. Guests are updated on FHWL’s activity in Haiti, learning about the struggles and triumphs of working with the Haitians, then are given a chance to give to the cause of the Christmas party. They can also donate gifts for the children to receive, as well as money to fund the program.
Sadly, FHWL has had some struggles with their food supplies. In fact, the normally well-stocked food warehouse ran completely dry in February. The empty stores forced FHWL to shut down their food program temporarily, which in turn meant some Haitians died from starvation.
However, FHWL’s Eva DeHart thinks the crisis won’t have a serious impact on the Christmas program. According to her, “At the Christmas party they know there will be food, and they know they’ll get gifts.” Kids really look forward to the party, she adds. “The children are really excited to come and celebrate Jesus’ birthday with us.”
DeHart wants to be careful to keep Jesus as the center of attention. “It’s important to not only give them something to look forward to. It’s the hope, the all-encompassing hope.” According to her, the party draws people that may not have any other contact with the Gospel. “They’re over and above our food program, over and above our clinic outreach. This is a poor segment of Haiti that doesn’t get the opportunity to hear Jesus’ message, and we invite them to come and learn about Him and celebrate His birthday with us.”