Sunrise Community Christian Reformed Church in Austin, Tex., celebrated Christmas with refugee and immigrant families this year at Posada Esperanza, which serves families who are new to the United States.
Church members and students from a local school contributed to the event, which was organized by Joli Kindler, Catie Hilbelink, and Vanessa Ritter.
Posada Esperanza “is a housing wing of Casa Marianella here in Austin, which helps immigrants and refugees find connections here in the U.S.,” said pastor Mark Hilbelink of Sunrise Community Church. Posada Esperanza specifically serves mothers and children. “Some are from Central America and some are from Africa,” explained Hilbelink. “Some also come from Mexico and are ‘let in’ by Border Protection because they are considered vulnerable.”
Sunrise Community brought the party to an East Austin cul-de-sac very close to the church. The outdoor party included a bounce house and kiddie train driven by Santa. There were gift bags for moms, household goods and non-perishable food items for the families, and cookies and cupcakes.
This is the first time they’ve thrown a party for Posada Esperanza/Casa Marinella, but it is not the first time Sunrise Community Church has thrown a Christmas party for families in their neighbourhood. They held a party last year for families at the Salvation Army family shelter.
“The project each year is called ‘Operation: Christmas Party,’ said Hilbelink. “We go somewhere, put on a party, bring Santa, distribute gifts, help kids make presents for their moms, and help moms get things stashed away for their kids.”