Clarkston school "adopts" refugee families for Christmas

by Barbara Lewis 8. December 2011 11:12

As they have since 1984, the families of students at Cedar Crest Academy in Clarkston will “adopt” some of the families being served by Lutheran Social Services of Michigan at Christmas, providing them a bounty of gifts. This year, the Cedar Crest families will travel to Lutheran Social Services’ Refugee Services training center in Madison Heights on Saturday, Dec. 10, laden with gifts for seven Iraqi refugee families. The school families will meet the families they’ve “adopted,” share a pizza lunch and then deliver the gifts to the refugees’ homes.

“We bring one wrapped gift for each of the children with us to the party and leave the rest of the gifts in our cars, because there’s a lot,” said Karen Jbara, whose three children attended Cedar Crest Academy, an independent private pre-K – 8th grade school. “Before you know it, the kids are kicking around a soccer ball or working on a puzzle or game together. It provides an opportunity for the children to bond and have something in common.”

The Cedar Crest families enjoy learning more about the refugee families, sometimes with the help of an interpreter. “It’s especially educational for the children,” said Jbara. “It’s humbling for them to realize that these people have needs for things like sheets and pots and pans that are very basic.”

Cedar Crest has been adopting families for Christmas since the school opened. “The opportunity to share our blessings with local families is valuable to us,” said school director Bette Moen. “How proud our students are of the mounting heap of needed items in their classroom, which will disappear into good hands. For the youngest of us, it is an unknown story to learn the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants.’ Oh, the lessons to be learned!”

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