Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Spreading the Christmas cheer | Faith United treats residents of Mandela Terrace

Published:Tuesday | December 20, 2016 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines
Maude Burnett hands out food and gifts to the children at the Faith United Church of God Christmas treat for inner-city children of Mandela Terrace in St Andrew on Sunday.
Members of the Faith United Church of God Youth Group preparing the food for the Christmas treat.
The youngest participants enjoy their meal during the Faith United Church of God Christmas treat for inner-city children of Mandela Terrace in St Andrew on Sunday.
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Joy unconfined. That was the best way to describe the atmosphere among residents of Mandela Terrace in Waltham Park, St Andrew, on Sunday when the Faith United Church of God staged its annual treat for the festive season.

As Christmas carols were used to serenade the gathering, youngsters and adults alike were seen engaged in light conversations, their faces decorated with laughter as they consumed delectable food items.

"I feel very grateful about it," 27-year-old resident Oraldo Brown told The Gleaner.

He added: "I like how the church is playing its part in ensuring that the kids, in particular, are all right at Christmas time."

The treat, a dual initiative, envisioned and brought to fruition in 2009 by Pastor Charles Francis and Anastasia Cunningham, the church's public relations officer/ administrator, serves as a catalyst for greater community unity.

In speaking to the importance of the treat outside of the merriment, Francis said: "This was an area that was torn by war. So with the church in the community, and more so doing this, it brings a union between the warring factions."

Twenty-two-year-old Sashana Rose, a new resident who brought along her son, was extremely appreciative of the church's kind gesture.

"It's a wonderful event. I'm enjoying it a lot, and last year was the same thing."

Her son was of a similar mind, stating: "The food yummy," while playing with the other children.

In keeping with traditional Sunday activities, resident youths engaged in a friendly and energetic game of scrimmage football close to the church grounds.

A few would eventually break and exchange pleasantries while partaking of the treat.

Though seven days shy on the calendar, the surroundings had every feeling of Christmas Day.

Digicel, Headline Entertain-ment and several individuals locally and overseas were commended for contributing to this year's successful execution.

In responding to what type of relations are needed between the church and inner-city communities to limit violence, Francis told The Gleaner: "The kind of relationship needed is one not just on a spiritual level but one that deals with their everyday life. In this area, the church is involved in every community activity. If someone is keeping a fish fry, the church will support. So it's about staying as close to the residents as possible. That way, you can better monitor situations before they escalate."

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com