|Christmas For Day Laborers|
Day laborers have been at the center of an immigration storm in Herndon, Virginia. Some residents don’t want the workers in their town, but a church group felt differently. They decided to invite them to a special Christmas party in their honor. And they hope the holiday’s giving spirit will continue year-round. Reed Galin reports.
(Locator: Herndon, Virginia)
(People greet guests) "Welcome."
Friendship and conversation...beans and tamales...
(Guests at table) "Thank you, thank you."
(Counting Christmas presents) "Eighty-two."
...and Feliz Navidad.
It’s a Christmas party sponsored by Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia. Everybody is talking about the party guests these days, including those who want to move into the White House, not far up the road...talking about immigrants.
Jose Ochoa/Day Laborer (speaks through translator): "A lot of us have not been able to get work during the wintertime, or they don’t have papers, or it’s just the general situation now toward immigrants is, bad situation out there."
For church members, debating immigration became less important than doing something.
The Rev. Martha Neal/Floris United Methodist Church: "The question that’s asked in the New Testament, 'Who is my neighbor?' 'Who is my neighbor?" just haunted me. And a friend of mine set up a time we could just sit and talk with two of the men. And just having that conversation with them changed everything for me. And churches are called not only to share food and clothing and material things, but also things of the spirit."
Christmas presents from church members and others in the community speak to the workers’ real lives: grocery store gift cards, long underwear.
Nelson Menocal/Day Laborer (speaks through translator): "It’s a time of crisis. We came to this country with the hope that our family’s situation will improve. But nowadays we have to go back with our hands empty."
The season is about family, and many are separated. But for an afternoon, it is a large, bilingual family here.
Jose Ochoa/Day Laborer (speaks through translator): "Thank God that there’s really good people, friendly people that give their time and money so we can spend some time together. We have not been able to have a nice meal for awhile."
Floris United Methodist Church offers year-round ministries for immigrants, including church services in Spanish, legal assistance and classes in English as a Second Language. Volunteers also help school students with their homework.
For more information, contact Floris United Methodist Church at 703-793-0026.
Also, see: Church holds Christmas party for day laborers