Child refugees celebrate Christmas early in Waukegan, some for first time in U.S.

WAUKEGAN (WLS) -- About 45 child refugees were able to celebrate Christmas Sunday in Waukegan, thanks to some generous members of the community.

The League of United Latin American Citizens organized the event, in which dozens of children received donated gifts and visited with Santa Claus. For some, it was their first time celebrating Christmas in the United States.

The LULAC National Immigration Committee and Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary, a satellite of Lincoln United Methodist church, wanted to make sure local child refugees had a Christmas celebration because many of these children have had horrific experiences and very difficult journeys to arrive and to live safely in the US with their families, a news release from event organizers said.

"This is a time for everyone to come together," said Julie Contreras, pastor of Our Lady of Suyapa and chair of the LULAC National Immigration Committee. "Today, in the true meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ, who was also a refugee, we will celebrate together as one family and bring joy to these innocent children who only want to live free and safe in the USA."

The church members are hoping to improve their community by leading by example, the release said. Generous community members donated all the gifts for the children, according to organizers.
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