By Clare Creegan
Primary school children from south London stood in solidarity with their persecuted brothers and sisters in Syria by holding a toy sale held in aid of suffering Christians.
The fundraiser was organised by staff and students of St Anselm’s Catholic Primary School in Tooting Bec and supported by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need as part of the local parish’s appeal for Syria.
The parish of St Anselm’s Offering a Lifeline of Hope to Syria project, which came about as a response to Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy, will run until November 2016.
ACN UK’s Head of Press and Information John Pontifex went along to introduce the project to the children at the school’s morning assembly on Tuesday 24th November.
Children were asked to bring in a toy to donate to the fundraiser and some money to go shopping.
Nikola, aged five, was one of the many children who purchased a preowned toy from one of her classmates.
The pink shoes were brought in by her schoolmate Isabella, aged 7, also from Tooting Bec.
Together with the rest of their school, the girls managed to raise more than £300 to support ACN’s work with persecuted Christian families in Syria.
ACN has been able to provide food parcels, medicine and clothing through project partners such as Sr Annie Demerjian.
Sr Annie is working to provide about 4,000 children with shoes and warm clothing as Christmas gifts ahead of the winter.
In a message to those who took part in the appeal, Sr Annie said:
“I would like to thank each one who offered and is still offering to elevate the suffering of our people and make them feel that they are not left alone but many brothers and sisters are concerned about them.”
Head-teacher Mrs Christina Macauley described the event as an overall success.
“As it was the first week of Advent, we decided to ask the children to bring a toy that they no longer played with. We set aside one afternoon and went shopping in each classroom. We were sold out within 25 minutes. The children had a lovely day.”
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in more than 140 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 176 languages and more than 51 million copies have been distributed all over the world.