Viet Nam News
by Minh Hương
Most people enjoy the festive season with families and friends, but for many others, especially those who are poor or ill, they may be struggling with homelessness or feelings of loneliness on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
To spread a little joy and fun this season, students from the Social Work Club at the Foreign Trade University in HCM City are taking part in an annual charity campaign “Đông trao yêu thương” (Giving Love in Winter).
The Social Work Club, whose slogan is “Spend Your Heart, Spend Your Love”, has two main activities: “The Loving Meal” and “The Dreaming Christmas Tree”.
More than 30 students cook and distribute meals as part of the Loving Meal campaign. They delivered 600 meals to patients at the HCM City Oncology Hospital on December 1 and young patients at HCM City Pediatrics Hospital 1 a week later.
“I’ve seen many poor and homeless people on the street, but I was reluctant to help them because of embarrassment. Then The Loving Meal gave me a chance to give meals to people in difficulty, which has been extremely meaningful for me,” said Hoàng My, a 19-year-old volunteer.
As part of the Dreaming Christmas Tree activity, the students recently travelled to Nhơn Trạch District in Đồng Nai Province to ask poor children what they would like to have for Christmas.
The students then returned to HCM City and placed presents under a Christmas tree at the university campus. After two weeks, 90 gifts had been carefully prepared for the kids.
“They are young, so their wishes were innocent. They made us think about how to make up for their losses, so we came back and really wanted to organise this activity,” said Giang Nguyên, the leader of “Dreaming Christmas Tree”.
Trịnh Thúy An, a seven-year-old girl, told the students that she wanted a crayon set and colouring notebook, while a girl named Phạm Thị Tuyết Minh said she wanted a desk for studying.
Trung Kiên, 7, hoped for a superman figure, while a young boy named Nguyễn Hiệp Huy wanted new clothing.
Though they are only material objects, the gifts have spiritual value as well. By helping make their dreams come true, the university students see themselves as compassionate stand-ins for Santa Claus.
The students will deliver the gifts to the children in Nhơn Trạch District in Đồng Nai Province on December 14 and 16.
All of the student volunteers are passionate about raising funds and calling on sponsors for their charity campaign. Despite the hot weather of HCM City last month, they travelled to many universities, high schools and parks to sell corn milk and cakes to raise funds.
Fortunately, other students at Foreign Trade University and local universities, as well as Diệu Pháp Pagoda and other sponsors, gave the club many donations.
Even though they had difficulties during fundraising, including a lack of peers and the pressure to raise money, they were able to overcome them.
“Without the Loving Meal or Dreaming Christmas Tree activities, my Christmas would not have been complete,” one student volunteer said. —VNS