Christmas gifts for Rome's refugees

Annual gift appeal for refugees in Rome

The world is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since world war two, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), with Italy one of the nations most affected.

One of the centres in Rome coping with the crisis is the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC) at the American Episcopal Church of Rome, St Paul’s within the Walls.

As in previous years, the JNRC is appealing for Christmas gifts for the refugees in its care, and says the initiative does not cost much, is fun to do, and can involve families, schools and workplaces.

The idea centres around collecting practical things as Christmas gifts for those who are less fortunate. Donors are asked not to buy large or expensive items but to stick to this list: toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, chewing gum, razors, gloves, chocolate, paper towels, playing cards, hats, playing cards, combs, scarves, notebooks, pens, lip balm, underwear and soap.

The JNRC says that a large number of small items can help many more people that a few large costly purchases. Donations should be brought to St Paul's Within the Walls on Via Napoli 58, by Friday 12 December. They can be dropped off at the church office during the week between 10.00 and 15.30 and on Sundays before the start of the 10.30 service. The items can also be delivered on Saturday 6 December during the annual JNRC Christmas Market Place, from 10.00-16.00.

The initiative is organised with the support of Churches Together, an ecumenical body comprising 11 mainly English-speaking churches in Rome, and the gifts will be handed out at the centre's Christmas party.

As in previous years, all the gifts are divided evenly among the refugees, the majority of whom are men under 30 years of age. If there is a surplus of donations they will be shared with other charities such as the Missionaries of Charity in the Prenestino district, the Missionaries of Charity in Tor Bella Monaca and the Salvation Army in S. Lorenzo.

Located in the crypt of St Paul’s, the JNRC was founded in 1995 and welcomes around 200 guests each weekday, from 08.30 to 14.00. For more details about the JNRC see website.