An annual Christmas initiative directed by the workers of Brazil Publishing House (CPB) saw more than 800 baskets with food and other items distributed among people in need in Tatuí, São Paulo, Brazil. It is the third year workers of the Seventh-day Adventist institution, located in that city of 116,000, two hours west of São Paulo, worked together to support the needy in their community.
The origins of what has become an annual tradition are worthy of a story, leaders said.
In 2016, retiree Márcia Zózimo was going through a period of financial distress. Her retirement pension was not enough to cover all her expenses. She felt she was forced to choose between paying her bills or buying food.
A bakery in Tatuí, where she lives, used to make daily donations, and Zózimo went there to get some bread for herself and her grandson. That’s where she met some people who invited her to a meeting.
At first, Zózimo thought it was about politics but then found out it was related to the Bible. Every time she returned home at the end of a meeting, she took with her the food she had received, such as pasta and vegetables. Since the location was far from her home, one of the participants told her she should try a nearby Adventist church instead.
Soon Zózimo was included on a list to receive one of the baskets provided by CPB. She told Adventist volunteers her daughter and son-in-law also needed help. The church soon found out, however, that the needs were greater than what the congregation by itself could manage.
It was then that workers at nearby CPB entered the picture, as many of them accepted an invitation to step in and support the local church’s efforts. “CPB delivered several extra baskets for that campaign,” one of the volunteers recalled. “And besides food baskets, they gathered children’s toys and clothes.”
Caring for the Needy
Zózimo shared her story at a recent ceremony in which CPB workers handed over 802 baskets for the needy. The baskets were distributed among the 24 local Adventist churches in the area for delivery in their communities. Each church's community team takes baskets to residents in need just in time for Christmas.
For the annual campaign, every CPB worker is encouraged to contribute as much as he or she feels comfortable or willing to do. “The importance of [our employees’] participation boils down to the very mission of Christians, which is to follow Christ’s example,” said CPB president José Carlos de Lima. “[It is our duty to] contribute and help the needy living around us.”
ADRA Brazil São Paulo State director Ivo Suedekun seconded the idea as he highlighted the role of the church in helping the most vulnerable. “It is important for us as a church to make a difference, sharing a little of our Lord’s abundance,” he said.
Southwest São Paulo Conference president Aurelino Ferreira thanked the CPB employees for their involvement and support. “We are deeply grateful to CPB’s workers. CPB has a clear mission and did not hesitate in donating resources to ease the suffering of those who now will enjoy a better Christmas,” he said.
As for Zózimo, after receiving assistance in 2016, she asked for Bible studies and decided to be baptized nine months later. Now she volunteers in the yearly drive to raise funds and distribute food baskets among her neighbors.
“I am leaving for a supermarket now, to collect more food for even more baskets,” she said.
The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division news page.