By Ani A. Janbazian
Every year, 25,000 needy children in 50 different towns and villages throughout Armenia, Karabagh, and Georgia eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Christmas season. For these children and their families, the coming of Christmas is when they can look forward to a joyous celebration, come together, and glorify Christ’s birth with each other. The AMAA Summer Camp and Christmas Committee’s mission each October is to raise monetary support to provide their underprivileged Armenian brothers and sisters an annual Christmas Program where they can hear the miracle of the nativity story in a theatrical presentation, worship with songs, and receive a Christmas joy package, which for many of them is the only gift they receive for Christmas.
This year, the AMAA Summer Camp and Christmas Committee celebrated their “Christmas in October” fundraiser on Wed., Oct. 7 at the elegant Seasons restaurant in Washington Township, N.J. Over 80 guests who attended were seated at tables with a Christmas wreath in the center, adorned with red and white Christmas ball ornaments tied with strings to donation cards. Guests generously donated and wrote their names on the cards and had them hung on a Christmas tree in the center of the ballroom.
The luncheon began with a word of welcome from Summer Camp and Christmas Committee chairperson Elbiz Baghdikian, who introduced Rev. Dr. René Leonian, the AMAA Armenia representative, to give the luncheon prayer. Rev. Leonian then introduced a special guest, Lilit Galstyan from Armenia, who was a recipient of AMAA’s help in many ways. During the first few years of her life when she was unable to receive her mother’s milk, Galstyan received infant formula from the AMAA’s Armenian Children’s Milk Fund. Without the formula, she may not be alive today. Now 17 years old and healthy, Galstyan thanked the AMAA and recited an Armenian poem. Greetings were given by Lucy Janjigian, the national chairperson of the Summer Camp and Christmas Committee, followed by a moving video presentation that portrayed impoverished families throughout villages in Armenia and children receiving necessary care packages and Christmas gifts from the AMAA.
Each year, members have volunteered their time and efforts to organize the annual fundraiser luncheon to help bring joy into each Christmas season for Armenian children. During this year’s luncheon, Andrew Torigian, the AMAA executive director, gave a word of appreciation to chairpersons Lucy Janjigian and Elbiz Baghdikian, past co-chairperson Lucienne Aynilian, and present and past committee members for their hard work on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the formation of this committee.
Each committee member received a plaque and came together on stage for a round of applause. Following the plaque presentation, guests enjoyed a musical performance by the Harmonia Chamber Players ensemble. The closing prayer was given by AMAA field director Dikran Youmshakian.
Prior to the arrival of the guests at the luncheon, an empty, lone Christmas tree stood in the center of the ballroom. Shortly after the luncheon program began, the tree was overwhelmingly filled with ornaments of donation cards. Each ornament symbolized at least one child who will receive a gift of joy this coming Christmas season. So far, about $20,000 has been raised towards this year’s Christmas joy packages.
To be part of this fundraising event, send your donations to the AMAA at 31 West Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652, earmarked for “Christmas Joy Packages,” or donate online by visiting www.amaa.org. Each child’s Christmas package costs $10 and includes the Christmas celebration and a Christmas gift.