This Advent, CAFOD parish volunteers and supporters are sharing the joy of coming together as a parish community with creative ways of fundraising for World Gifts in their parishes.
Hayley Benyon, CAFOD volunteer at Holy Family Parish in Freckleton and Warton, has inspired her parishioners to raise money to buy World Gifts during Advent for some years. This Advent has been no different.
Hayley and friends in the parish cover their large notice board in the church foyer with paper and leave a donation box and pens by it. The intent is to encourage parishioners to write personal Christmas messages for fellow parishioners on the board rather than write dozens of Christmas cards.
Parishioners, from children to the elderly, write their own personal Christmas message on the notice board and leave a donation so that the parish can buy World Gifts for CAFOD on behalf of all parishioners. Hayley said she totals the monies raised after Christmas and the parish purchases the World Gifts in the new year.
“We have previously bought World Gifts that are related to education as our parish has a lovely primary school which is very supportive of CAFOD,” said Hayley. “One year, the parish split the donations and gave half the money to a local charity and half to CAFOD – sending a message of solidarity at home and overseas.”
Practical help for hard-to-reach communities
Hayley said people in her parish like to see how their kind donations make a difference. World Gifts are fantastic for Christmas but they are available all year round. During Lent this year, her parish and the primary school raised enough money to purchase several community water supply World Gifts.
Hayley said CAFOD’s focus on water during the Lent Appeal this year “created tremendous interest and support, which led to incredible generosity and peace and joy to think that our small village church, during such a difficult year for everyone, could make a contribution to the 1 in 3 people in the world who still do not have access to safe, clean drinking water.”
Martin Higgins, a CAFOD supporter from the Parish of St Mary & St John Fisher in Denton, told us that a couple of years ago his family decided to reduce the number of individual presents given at Christmas and use the money they saved to buy World Gifts.
“It was wonderful to be able to give each other gifts such as the goat that gives, help for a refugee child, water for a family, a net that protects to keep families and babies safe from deadly diseases carried by mosquitoes, and a marvellous moo cow.
“We involved the children in opening the cards, and they were really excited and pleased to feel they were helping support other children across the world in very practical ways. We felt more connected to other families.”
Do things a bit differently this Christmas!
Martin was so inspired by this experience in his own family, he decided to share it with his parish. As part of the parish’s Live Simply Plan, parishioners created a display in each of their churches that represents their support as a parish community. There were pictures of individual World Gifts on the display and, in a talk at Mass in November, Martin invited his fellow parishioners to consider buying World Gifts or to give to the local foodbank and then put a sticky star on the display next to the image of the gifts they purchased or the local charity they supported.
Martin said to the congregation at Mass: “Why not consider doing things a bit differently this Christmas and use some of your spending on CAFOD’s World Gifts. Whether you are a part of a large family or not, if you are buying gifts for your loved ones, do take a look at the CAFOD website. I guarantee you are in for a real treat. The idea isn’t that you spend more this Christmas. What matters is that you give from the heart, with thought and care.”
Martin hopes that the Catholic schools in his area will get involved in buying World Gifts too. He said, “If it all goes to plan, we will end up with lots of stars on our display.”