Hanson Park church helps Chicago migrants celebrate Christmas: 'We're all humans'

Evelyn Holmes Image
Saturday, December 23, 2023
NW Side church helps migrants celebrate Christmas: 'We're all humans'
As the Chicago migrant crisis continues, St. Stanislaus Church on Belden Avenue is helping asylum-seekers celebrate Christmas with a toy giveaway.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Christmas is pretty different this year for the hundreds of South American migrants who attended a holiday party in Chicago's Northwest Side.

There was a spirit of love and community as the city's Hanson Park neighborhood celebrated the Christmas holiday with their newest neighbors.

Venezuelan migrant Nancy and her five children came to the United States eight months ago, and are among the South American asylum-seekers who Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent to Chicago after they arrived at the border.

Chicago officials said they expect nearly a dozen more buses to arrive sometime on Saturday.

In Spanish, Nancy said she wants to show some of the city's newest arrivals the love and respect she says others sometimes don't feel as they struggle to provide for their families.

On Saturday, she was a volunteer at the weekend migrant Christmas celebration hosted by St. Stanislaus Church on West Belden Avenue.

"We're all humans. We all, sometimes, in our lives, need something," said Michelle Franco, a church volunteer.

"It's nice to be here and help people out," said Jim Anderson, another volunteer.

They transformed their parish center for the holiday celebration and toy giveaway for migrant families with children.

Church coordinator Barbara Maldonado knows all too well what it is like to have nothing. She lost everything when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017.

"We have families here that live, like, 30 and 20 in a house. So, there are a lot of people in the house, and they don't have a lot of income. They don't have money for toys or gifts, so we're here to help them," Maldonado said.

Maldonado said they do what they can to help the migrants with food and a place to stay, but it's tough.

But, it was all fun and games after guests enjoyed a holiday meal, which included both some Venezuelan favorites along with some American fare. The children present received Christmas gifts donated by the community.

While many there said they are still very uncertain about what their future holds, they said they also still have hope.