By Ruth Bedevian
Her face lit up with overwhelming emotion as she cried out, “Oh, I really needed this coat, as she put aside the wrapping paper and tried on the navy-blue parka. It appeared to be an LL Bean or similar knock off, promising to keep its owner very warm through snow, sleet, wind and icy weather. In that moment, I could not fathom who was happier, she or me! Her radiant face is a glowing image that I will treasure from this 2019 Christmas Day “Luncheon & Fellowship” at Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium that was co-hosted by Sant’Egidio Community and St. Vartan Cathedral.
My son, daughter, granddaughter and I were among the volunteers responding to an email request for donors and/or volunteers sent from the office of the Vicar, Father Davit Karamyan.
On Christmas morning, we delighted in our granddaughter Ruby’s excitement with Santa’s overnight visit and the stockings and gifts he had left under the tree. We satisfied our appetites with our Armenian breakfast which every year includes choerag, tel banir (string cheese), basterma and olives and then we set off to New York City, not knowing what to expect as this was a deviation from past Christmas Day activities.
The day grew to be a divine journey into a merciful world where the words from the Gospel resounded more rewarding, more profoundly into one’s heart: … “in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Morning volunteers wrapped over 175 gifts of new clothing provided from in-kind donations and donor dollars. The afternoon shift served delicious warm Christmas fare to guests who had been sought out in various parts of the city shelters and streets and given a printed invitation to join a Christmas Day Luncheon celebration at St Vartan Cathedral, at 630 Second Ave. As in planning a Banquet for visiting dignitaries, over 80 volunteers from both the Armenian and Sant’Egidio communities, gave attention to every detail to create a Christmas celebration where all could encounter the gift of God’s love to the world in the birth of His son.