Helping Hands: Helping the underprivileged find the true essence of Christmas

HS 84

Growing up as an only child, Maripi loved Christmas because she thought it meant getting gifts on her wishlist.  This belief was somehow reinforced when she worked in the fashion & retail industry and the need to increase sales masked the true essence of Christmas.  But eventually, the thrill of obtaining the most “in” thing dissipated.  And as Maripi retired from the fashion & retail industry, she yearned to find better meaning, balance and purpose when Christmas time drew near.  “It was time for me to ask God to ‘use me’ in whatever way He thought best.”h

The opportunity came when Typhoon Yolanda struck Tacloban, Leyte.  Maripi and her husband, Leo, were blessed with the right opportunities, contacts and funds so that they were able to travel to Tacloban and provide Noche Buena for 200 families in time for Christmas Day.  “Yes, all of it was challenging, tiring and quite difficult when we served those who were underprivileged — but the immeasurable joy, fulfillment and peace that arose form it was the reward that was worth it all!  I somehow recalled those same old and good feeling when I would join the Assumption Immersions and Outreaches in AC high school and college.  Truly, to give is much better than to receive!”

Since then, Maripi has made it a point to organize similar outreaches with her family and friends… to distribute Noche Buena food baskets and toys to underprivileged families and communities.  “My family even made it a tradition not to spend extravagantly in giving gifts to each other, but rather, spend that money more wisely in helping those in our outreaches with greather needs.  I remember fondly when we would make it a family activity to pack those food baskets and gift bags with slippers, school supplies, toiletries, toys, and whatever else was needed in those communities we would visit.”

Through these simple, heartfelt efforts, Maripi has rediscoved the Reason for the Season.  “That Reason is when God gave us His very best gift, the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ — when He dies for our sins so that we may be saved into the wonderful and everlasting Kingdom of God, our Father.  Seeing the beautiful smiles and tears of those children and their families were the ‘greater and better gifts’ that we received in our hearts. 

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