The Debrecen Charity Board has started its traditional Advent Donation Campaign with the cooperation of the city and the historical churches.
This year’s initiative was announced by László Papp, Mayor of Debrecen, Diána Széles, Deputy Mayor of Debrecen, Co-Chair of the Debrecen Charity Board, Károly Fekete, Bishop of the Reformed Church District of Tiszántúl, Ferenc Palánki, Bishop of the Diocese of Debrecen-Nyíregyháza, István Seszták, Deputy Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hajdúdorog and András Törő, President of the Debrecen Charity Board. The press conference was held on the 13th of November 2023.
According to Mayor of Debrecebn László Papp, we are approaching one of the most uplifting and soul-warming times of the year – the Advent and Christmas period – characterised by a significant, city-wide collaboration. A unity that is first and foremost about getting help to where it is needed, in time – before Christmas if possible.
Christmas is a time when human relationships are especially valued when the desire to give and to receive gifts is more open. A very nice expression of this is the action of the Advent Donation Campaign. Boxes will be placed in the city, and donations will be collected for those in need. The mayor stressed that he is very grateful to church leaders for focusing together for four years now in the days before Advent to help and support those in need. The helpers want to focus on people in need who really need and deserve support. This initiative was launched in 2020. The period since then has been particularly trying for humanity: the pandemic, and other challenges have marked our lives. This also enhances the importance of this cooperation.
During the 2021 and 2022 Advent donations, more than 4,000 families received donations in more than 6,000 parcels. The activists of the Debrecen Charity Body spare no time and energy to help the donations reach their destination. “This year’s campaign starts on 13th of November and will run until 15th of December. The activists will deliver the donations to families in need before Christmas”, Mayor László Papp said, and then thanked donors for their generosity and for sharing their experience of recent years. During this period, donations of up to tens of millions of forints are received by various charitable organisations in the city. A good example of this was last week’s donation of HUF 20 million from a major Hungarian food company. The city will continue to welcome donations of food, clothes and household items for the needy.
László Papp thanked the generous cooperation of churches, NGOs, and economic partners and expressed his hope that in cooperation with the city, they will be able to make Christmas happier for many needy families this year.
Károly Fekete, Bishop of the Tiszántúli Reformed Church District, said that “love is a very forgettable thing when we live in a world of cruelty and warfare. If there were love, then perhaps there would not be so many wars and struggles, neither individually nor between nations. Love can never run out. In Advent, we remember the great rapprochement, the great bonding and joining together that God has done for man in his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.”
Perhaps it is not the size of the boxes that is important, not even their contents – of course, it is good if they are full – but the intention that they show: that people are thinking of each other. The idea that “I have something to give and someone to give it to” ennobles people and gives credibility to beliefs that are verbal, until they are matched by action. Károly Fekete expressed his confidence that many people in Debrecen would like to give, and therefore he was happy to offer the coordinating activity that the Hungarian Reformed Charity Service – which has this city as its “heart” and its largest logistics centre in Ebes, near Debrecen – has been carrying out for years. And the Eastern Hungary region is embracing this charity.
Ferenc Palánki, the Bishop of the Debrecen-Nyíregyháza Diocese, began his speech by saying that today the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Hungarian saints. Those who have brought love to life and are, according to our faith, in heaven. Saint John Paul II said that the saints do not expect us to applaud them, but to follow them. They became saints, they attained salvation by giving life to a love that never fades. In other words, their love, their life, became fruitful for others.
He could experience that he was welcomed by the community of the city, and that the community of Debrecen is truly together. And this togetherness, this shared goodness, is fruitful, which is very much in evidence in the season of Advent and the run-up to Christmas, when we help others to feel the divine love.
István Seszták, Deputy Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hajdúdorog, greeted the participants of the press conference on behalf of Father Fülöp Kocsis, who has been in Syria in recent days, also out of the inner motivation to do good and help others. In recent days, Greek Catholics have celebrated the angels, who are a very important part of the preparations for Christmas, which will announce the good news that God is coming to us. How can we ourselves become “angels”? István Seszták sees in this collaboration an opportunity to do so. Everyone who joins in this heartfelt initiative to help others can do a little to become even more “angelic” here on Earth. If we want to become an “angel”, all we have to do is to help a little bit all those who need the goodness, the mercy, the love that will come to us. Let’s do good, let’s become “angels” and be part of this collaboration, which is good to be part of”, István Seszták stressed.
András Törő, President of the Debrecen Charity Board, emphasised that the cooperation between churches, charitable organisations operating in the city and the city administration is unique in this form and serves as an example for others in the country. It is also exemplary how the Debrecen Charitable Board, as an umbrella organisation, brings together charitable, charitable, helping and assisting foundations, organisations and groups that want to do something for the people living in the city, for those people who are in need. Year by year the board changes, enriches and grows, because the quality of charity must be resourceful. This year, they are starting the collection campaign with such a spirit, trying to “flood” the city with the boxes through church communities, state and church schools, companies, including foreign companies that feel their responsibility towards the city community and want to become “local”.
Although the collection of donations through the charity box is a campaign event, for those who receive help as a result, it will make Christmas a better celebration. If a person only gives to charity around Christmas, but every year, this act will shape and mould them. If more people want to help, our city will be more united and we can come closer together. This year, in consultation with church leaders, we will add a little extra to the filled boxes. The recipients will also find a thought, a message from the three bishops, and a passage of scripture to bring the spirit of the feast a little closer to us.
To assemble the boxes, it takes a lot of benefactors, helpers, a lot of goodwill and a lot of work – even if it is just a kilo of sugar or flour – but it will shape the participants, András Törő said. They may arrive on Christmas Eve tired, but they will be recharged in spirit and will be able to pass it on at Christmas time.
According to Diána Széles, Deputy Mayor of Debrecen, the participants in this collaboration will show the strength of the city and represent the values on which Debrecen is built. Debrecen is sending out a message that it is not individual interests that are important but the community, the community of the city. As she stressed, the city’s caring programme aims to help everyone, and those in need should not be ashamed to let the community know that they need help. The willingness to help is there in individuals, families and businesses. The Debrecen Charity Board is ready to get donations to those who need them most. This is Debrecen – a city that stands up for values and whose community thinks of everyone.
Source and photo credit: debrecen.hu