At least 35 kids, their parents, and a number of choir members, sent 128 Christmas cards to migrant women and families in detention this Christmas. Hope for the Holidays is a Christmas Card Campaign Sponsored by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and the newly formed Welcome The Stranger ministry at St. Joan’s organized an LIRS card signing event at the Family Masses on December 11th. Kids and adults wrote messages of hope and joy, mostly in Spanish, to the detainees.
Over the past three years, there has been a stark increase in the number of children and mothers from Central America fleeing extreme violence and an inability of their governments to provide protection. These refugees, some as young as three years old, make the harrowing journey to the United States seeking asylum and protection.
Instead of safety, many find shackles. Each day, thousands of Central American children and their mothers seeking refuge in the United States are locked away in family detention facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania. The children who arrive unaccompanied are housed in temporary government-operated shelters for an average of 30-45 days, until a relative or loving foster family can offer them a safe place to restart their lives.
Consequently, many mothers and children end up spending the holidays in detention, separated from the love of their families and the comfort of their traditions. By writing messages of hope, we at SJA helped bring joy to these families. It may not solve their situations, but, by the cards that we sent, we show them that others care about them and that we at St. Joan’s “welcome the stranger.”