Sister Annie Demerjian with two of the children to receive free Christmas gifts.(Photo: Aid to the Church in Need)
Despite the ongoing hardship in wartorn Syria, there will be a little more cheer this Christmas for thousands of children receiving donated gifts.
Some 19,000 children, many of them displaced from their homes, have received Christmas gifts donated through the charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
It is the eighth year in a row that ACN has run the Christmas gift drive for children living in the ruins of the Syrian civil war.
The parcels include warm clothes, shoes and toys, as well as devotionals.
Elderly and disabled Christians will also be receiving parcels of food, soap, medicine, clothing and shoes to help them through the winter.
ACN’s project partner in Syria, Sister Annie Demerjian, thanked all of the people who have donated gifts for the children this year.
“[ACN] brings smiles to more than 19,000 children all over Syria because of your Christmas gifts,” she said.
Speaking about the impact of the aid parcels on the elderly and disabled, she said: “You can’t imagine, when the old receive the aid, how they cry. They open their hands and they thank you.
“They thank you and they told us that they pray for you.
“Really, you are in their prayers daily. They are grateful for all that you are offering us.”
The civil war in Syria has taken a heavy toll on Christians, with at least 1,700 killed and over 600 abducted since 2010.
In Aleppo, one of the worst affected cities, Latin Bishop George Abou Khazen, has been working with ACN to distribute food packages to the poorest Christian families, as well as financial aid to help cover the cost of fuel and heating oil.
Sr Annie continued: “I can’t express my feeling for how you will help to warm so many houses because of the fuel you are providing.”