The Pathways International Christmas Basket Project was started 5 years ago in 2008 as a way for Moms who were new to loss to honor the memories of their children during the holiday season. In gratitude, the desire to pay that love forward has blossomed into a powerful annual event that continues to grow.
What does the program do? Specifically, this program gives you and us the opportunity to help those who are in great need, especially during a time of year when the Christian message should be centered on HOPE. By distributing a large box or basket of nonperishable food items, a fresh chicken, and a bag of freshly baked rolls, we are able to provide a delicious holiday dinner and enough sundries to feed a family of four for up to 2 weeks.
Who qualifies to receive these gift baskets? We begin the assessment work months in advance by a continually reaching out to poor communities all around the region. We also seek opportunities to reach into new communities as we go. During this time we take note of who has lost work and has no incoming wage, and those who have no means due to severe illness, hospitalization, or handicap, as well as the elderly who have no family in their area to care for their needs. We work alongside area pastors and community leaders to ensure that those in dire straits (in other words, “the poorest of the poor”) are being addressed first.
What about the children? It isn’t hard for us who are privileged to imagine the excitement on our kids’ faces as Christmas morning arrives and everyone makes a dash to the tree, to see what might wait for us there. But here in rural Ecuador, there are no Christmas Trees in the family home. There are no presents for the children. There may not even be much more than a cup of soup and a bowl of rice to eat.
We want every child in the region, as much as possible, to know the gift of love by letting them know that they are important and not forgotten. As we visit area homes and families, we distribute lots and lots of hugs, as well as bags of cookies & candies. As materials permit, we bring along small toys to brighten the little faces of curios onlookers. We prepare ourselves to stop often and randomly along the roadside to brighten a little one’s day with a hug, some sweet treats, and a bit of hope and love.
What else do we do? During this holiday time, we widen the scope of our service by exploring communities we’ve never been to. We host community gatherings and provide a hot meals, bringing people together, and take time to sit, eat, share, and talk. No person leaves hungry or feeling uncared for!
How can you help? Each Box or basket weighs approximately 40 pounds and costs $50 to fill. We include rice, a variety of dry beans, canned meats, cereals, grains, coffee, juice packets, and a host of other nutritious sundries that will keep a family fed for weeks. Supporters can choose to sponsor full baskets at $50 each, or half baskets at $25. And, in addition to the baskets, you can make cash donations to sponsor the community feeding programs and/or the children’s gifts and cookie bags. It’s a flexible giving program that allows you to choose how you wish to support our efforts.
We want to sincerely thank you for the blessing of support that will reach many in the worst conditions in our region. Your gift, along with some hope and love will make this Christmas season memorable. May the Lord bless you abundantly!!
Sincerely, Claudia Labrador
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