Every summer Mar-Lu-Ridge, an ELCA summer camp in Maryland, chooses an organization to support and plans activities to help the campers learn how to be a diverse community of service and make a difference in the life of others.
Last summer, children from Mar-Lu-Ridge participated in LIRS’s Hope for the Holidays Campaign and wrote holiday cards to children being held in family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania.
The campers, many of them immigrants themselves, were enthralled in topical conversation as they learned about the needs of children in detention.
The topic hit close to home, as many were quickly able to identify someone at school or in their church community who has an immigrant story. They wrote cards and discussed what they could do when they got home -and in their church communities-to help the children being held indefinitely in these detention centers. Mar-Lu-Ridge even matched donations from the campers and families to help buy gifts to accompany their cards of encouragement.
Through the LIRS Hope for the Holidays campaign, LIRS provides comfort and joy to children and families, including toddlers, nursing mothers and pregnant women, being held in “family detention centers”
You can imagine the joy this campaign brings to children who spend the holidays detained. It is such a blessing to receive a gift and words of encouragement and solidarity from other children their age. One camper wrote, “You are very brave to come to a new place. We love you and hope things go well here for you.” LIRS works with congregations, community groups and families nationwide to ensure every child has something to open on Christmas.
“I can’t begin to tell you just how much I appreciate you, your organization and the people who support you. As we stuff stockings for the children and youth, I am certain they will love them!!” –Chaplin at a family immigration detention center
Beginning in November, LIRS headquarters transforms into Santa’s workshop, as handmade cards and donations arrive from across the country. LIRS staff sort and package cards, and purchase hundreds of children’s books in Spanish, stuffed animals, puzzles, games and other toys approved by the facility.
The cards and gifts are then sent to LIRS volunteers near the centers, who repackage them for delivery.
Only then do these special gifts and cards reach the children just in time for their holiday parties. Last year, with the help of Mar-Lu-Ridge’s children, LIRS delivered over 800 gifts and more than 4,500 cards.
What can you do to help? Children being held in detention would love to hear from you, so please call 1-410-230-2772 to learn more about this life-changing program.