CHCSA brings Christmas joy to two special groups of people.
By Sandy Poon
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ came to light up the world. On Dec. 2 this year, City Harvest Community Services Association brought the spirit of the season to two groups of their beneficiaries.
First Hand’s Light Of Christmas Party
The “Light Of Christmas” party was held for the beneficiaries of FIRST Hand; 20 HIV/Aids patients gathered at House Of JOY center at Pine Close for an early Christmas celebration.
FIRST Hand volunteers befriend terminally-ill patients, most of them suffering from HIV/Aids. FIRST Hand’s goal is to build a community where it can provide support and help these patients to live their lives with dignity.
This Christmas celebration was given a special boost by the elderly volunteers from House Of JOY, a senior citizen activity center set up by CHCSA. The organization hit on the idea of getting different groups of beneficiaries to serve, to be served and to learn from each other.
“We were brainstorming about how to celebrate Christmas with the FIRST Hand patients and how to impart the true meaning of Christmas. One of our co-organizers suggested asking the seniors from HOJ to perform a short skit,” said Herman Lim, a CHCSA counselor who organized the event.
The FIRST Hand beneficiaries, however, became more than mere spectators of the drama production. They had to participate by dressing up as characters in the Christmas story.
“The purpose of getting them to participate was to help them realize that if the elderly can do it, they can do it too! They are not so different from the rest of us”, Lim explained.
That is the belief at CHCSA: everyone is equal, and everyone is accepted for who he is.
The crowd stood cheering as the FIRST Hand beneficiaries went up on stage to “model” their glittery and fanciful costumes. Amidst much joy and laughter, the program moved on to the highlight of the day: gift-giving!
Jesslyn (not her real name), 11, a FIRST Hand client, was so happy to receive her present that she immediately hugged it tightly. Though beneficiaries were asked not to open their Christmas gifts yet, that didn’t stop her from having a good time.
“I like to be here where I have friends, and even a present today!” she said with a smile.
Talking Hands’ Light Up Your Christmas Party
The “Light Up Your Christmas” party was held at Sculpture Square for CHCSA’s Talking Hands beneficiaries. More than 70 people gathered for this event.
Talking Hands is a CHCSA service that trains volunteers to serve the hearing-impaired and help them integrate into society. People often have the idea that a gathering of the hearing impaired would be filled with silence, but with busy hand gestures and facial expressions, the beneficiaries literally let their hands do the talking. The atmosphere buzzed with activity.
The highlight of the party was a performance put up by famous comedy-juggling clowns Kit & Kat from Circus Outreach. Even though Kit & Kat did not know sign language, they delivered an outstanding performance using their body language to convey their jokes; they roped in some beneficiaries to participate.
“The smiles on the faces of our clients make me want to come back and serve again and again,” said Pearly Sim, 24, a volunteer of Talking Hands.
What better way to light up Christmas than to let them experience the Christmas light-up along Orchard Road? The Talking Hands clients and First Hand beneficiaries took special rides down the dazzling shopping strip on Hippo Buses.
“Many of them enjoy taking photographs so being on the open-top Hippo Bus to experience the beautiful Christmas lights was quite exciting for them,” said Eden Sim, CHCSA’s program executive who organized the Talking Hands Christmas party.
Co-organizer Jeanette Soh added, “‘Light Up Your Christmas’ is about bringing hope and joy of the season to the deaf through friendship and laugher. We hope we achieved that through the party.”