A week prior to Christmas, every year, the Parish Integral of Human Development Ministry (PIHDM) of the Church of St Joseph in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, holds the annual School Uniform Campaign cum Christmas gathering for underprivileged local and migrant school children living within the vicinity of Sentul. It has always been the Church’s tradition to support these school children especially during this time of year, as Christmas is a season for giving and sharing.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Conditional Movement Controlled Order (CMCO), we faced numerous challenges in trying to organise the campaign this year. However, we are thankful to Yang Berhormat Dato’ Sri Dr. Edmund Santhara, the Deputy Minister of Federal Territories, for his support and generous contribution, which made it possible for us to proceed with this annual school uniform campaign.
Initially, the PIHDM decided to forego the School Uniform Campaign this year due to the pandemic, financial difficulties faced by many including our Parishioners, as well as the suspension of Mass celebrations and gatherings within the Church premises. Fortunately, Dato’ Sri Dr. Edmund Santhara has impelled, encouraged and motivated us to commit ourselves to this outreach. We thank him for his support and kind generosity towards this worthy cause. As we began making preparations for this event, a few other well-wishers have come along to support our project this year.
Dato’ Sri Dr. Edmund Santhara will be officiating the event, bringing Christmas cheer to the underprivileged school children, on Sunday, 20 December 2020 at Dewan Monsignor Anthony Thomas, Church of St. Joseph, Sentul at 11.00am.
Due to the implementation of the CMCO, we have only invited 20 underprivileged school children to attend the event this year. The remaining 230 children will either be given vouchers and directed to the designated shop to redeem their uniforms, or will have their uniforms delivered to them, if they are unable to collect them personally. As per the usual practice, we distribute uniform sets worth RM150 for each student. This consists of two (2) sets of shirts, trousers or pinafores, a school bag, a pair of shoes and stationery.
In previous years, the PIHDM would usually organise a fund-raising project by reaching out to our Parishioners for contributions and support towards this meaningful event. Two months before Christmas, the PIHDM would begin their preparations and stage-by-stage fundraising exercise. We encourage Parishioners to “adopt a child” with a minimum RM100 donation, in order to support this event. Our target was to reach out to around 450 – 500 underprivileged children.
One month or so before the distribution of school uniforms, we would invite the children for a fitting session, to determine their uniform and shoe sizes. After purchasing the relevant sets, we would pack these accordingly, in preparation for collection day. The distribution of the Uniform sets is usually held a week before Christmas, and on that day, the children are treated to an afternoon of entertainment, carols, activities, games and fellowship to bring the joy of Christmas into their hearts.
We have successfully carried out this campaign without fail for many years because of the support and contributions of the kind-hearted Parishioners of St Joseph’s Church. In addition to the annual School Uniform Campaign, the PIHDM reaches out to our adoptees (poor families) by providing a monthly provision of essential groceries. These past four years, we have also celebrated World Day of the Poor and Parish Family Day on the third Sunday of November with these families and all our Parishioners.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Dato’ Sri Dr. Edmund Santhara, Senator Wan Ahmad Fayshal Wan Ahmad Kamal (Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia), Datuk Seri Magiln Dennis D’Cruz (Chairman of Persatuan Pembangunan Progresif – PPP Malaysia), the PIHDM committee members, many individuals, sponsors and Parishioners who have worked tirelessly towards the success of this event. As we come to the close of the year 2020, despite the pandemic, we have truly had a fulfilling year working together with one spirit. The year comes to end with another memorable and significant event, as we share the joy of Christmas with those less fortunate than us. We have realised our Parish Mission for the year 2020, “To Embrace the 5Ls (Last, Lost, Least. Little and Lonely)” so let us look forward and walk towards the Year 2021, the Year of Saint Joseph, as announced by the Holy Father Pope Francis, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St Joseph as Patron Saint of the Universal Church.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy