The Debrecen Charitable Board’s now traditional Advent fund-raising campaign has started with the cooperation of the city and historical churches.
László Papp, mayor of the city of Debrecen, deputy mayor Diána Széles, co-chairman of the Debrecen Charitable Board, Károly Fekete, bishop of the Tiszántúli Reformed Church District, Ferenc Palánki, county bishop of the Debrecen-Nyíregyházi Diocese, István Seszták, head of the Archdiocese of Hajdúdorog and András Törő, the president of the Debrecen Charitable Board held a press conference on November 13, 2023, about this year’s initiative.
According to László Papp, we are approaching one of the most elevated and soul-warming periods of the year – the Advent and Christmas periods – which are characterized by a very significant gathering that embraces the entire city. It is a collaboration that primarily serves the purpose of arriving where the need requires it in time – if possible before Christmas. Christmas is the period when human relationships are especially valued when the desire to find joy and give gifts opens up even more in people. A very nice form of manifestation of this is the action, in the framework of which Advent Boxes will appear in the city and donations will be collected for those who do not live in such living conditions that Christmas is about unclouded happiness for them. The mayor emphasized: that he is very grateful to the church leaders because for four years now they have been concentrating together in the days before Advent to help and support those who need help. As Advent approaches, the Together for Debrecen initiative gives a kind of handhold to all those who have to think of Christmas as needy. The helpers want to focus on people who really need and deserve support. This initiative was launched in 2020. The period that has passed since then has especially tried humanity: a pandemic and other challenges have characterized our lives. This also overestimates the importance of this cooperation. During the 2021 and 2022 Advent donations, donations reached more than 4,000 families in the form of more than 6,000 packages. Activists of the Debrecen Charity Board spare no time or energy during the Advent season to help deliver donations to their destination. László Papp said that this year’s promotion starts on November 13 and lasts until December 15. And the activists deliver the donations that are constantly coming in to the families in need before Christmas. Based on the experience of the past years, the mayor thanked the donors for their generosity. During this period, donations of up to tens of millions of forints are sent to the city’s various charities, primarily to the Debrecen Charity Board. A very good example of this was the HUF 20 million donation of one of the large Hungarian food industry companies last week. In the coming period, the city is also expecting food donations intended for the needy, but also clothes and household items. László Papp expressed his gratitude for the generous cooperation that characterizes the churches, civil organizations and actors of economic life, and expressed his hope that, in cooperation with the city, they will be able to make the Christmas of many needy families happier this year as well.
According to Károlyt Fekete, the bishop of the Tiszántúli Reformed Church District, when we live in a world of cruelty and war, love is a very forgettable thing. If there was love, then maybe there wouldn’t be so many wars and struggles, neither individually nor between people. Love can never run out. In Advent, we remember that great approach, that great holding together and unity that God did for man in his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. This thought of us, that the Creator thinks of his created children in this way, encourages us to think again about those who are in a much more difficult situation than us, despite all external circumstances. We now need to not forget those who are in need at home in the midst of international problems and wars. That’s when we have to think about our own. This is what we want to do in Debrecen – emphasized Károly Fekete. Perhaps the size of the Advent Boxes is not important, not even their content – of course, it’s good if they are full – but the intention they show: that people think of each other. The idea that “I have something to give and someone to give it to” ennobles a person and validates the faith that is expressed in words until they are combined with actions. Károly Fekete expressed his confidence that many people would like to give in Debrecen, and therefore happily offered the coordinating activity of the Hungarian Reformed Charity Service – whose “heart” is this city and whose largest logistics center is located nearby in Ebesen – has been practicing for years. And the Eastern Hungarian region feels this service of love as its own. According to Károly Fekete, it is gratifying that they are able to team up with the Roman Catholic or Greek Catholic sister organizations that also operate here in Debrecen, not to mention the various charitable movements in the city and the Debrecen Charity Board. The abbreviation KT lies in the name of the kartative body. And in the Reformed reading, the catechism is the confession of faith, said Károly Fekete. Love never ends, this is our creed, and that’s why we are moving again together with Debrecen – emphasized the bishop.
Ferenc Palánki, the county bishop of the Diocese of Debrecen-Nyíregyházi, began his speech by saying that today the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Hungarian saints. Those who have transformed love into life and, according to our belief, are in heaven. St. II. John Paul said that the saints do not expect us to applaud them, but to follow them. They became saints, they reached salvation in such a way that they gave life to the love that never fades away. In other words, their love, and their life became fruitful for others. That is why this is an example for us, and it is not only an example for its fourth year but also in our community, in our city, the cooperation is bearing fruit. Why should all this be made news? If people hear about this, maybe their conscience will speak and they too want to be better. The center of charity is the benefactor, but goodness itself is God, said Ferenc Palánki. And if we try to help others out of kindness, then we have actually brought the never-fading divine love down to this earth, to this city. The bishop expressed his joy that the Debrecen Charity Board exists, which coordinates all the good intentions of the churches, the city, and the city’s leadership. He especially thanked the parish priest and dean of the Church of the Incarnation, Father András Törő, for accepting the position of chairman of the charity board. The church naturally supports him in this important service as well. Ferenc Palánki emphasized: what he is very grateful for is that we are really together in Debrecen. Just tomorrow it will be eight years since he took over the leadership of the diocese. He was able to experience that he was warmly welcomed by the city’s community, and he was able to experience that the community of Debrecen is really together in everything. And this togetherness, this common goodness, is fruitful, which is very well shown in the period of Advent and the preparation for Christmas when we help others to feel the divine love.
István Seszták, the chief deputy of the Archdiocese of Hajdúdorog, also greeted the participants of the press conference on behalf of Father Fülöp Kocsis, who visited Syria in recent days also from the inner motivation that it is good to do good and help others. In recent days, Greek Catholics have celebrated the angels, who are very important characters in the Christmas preparation period that will announce the good news that God is coming among us. How can we become “angels” ourselves? István Seszták sees the possibility of this in this collaboration. Everyone who gets involved in this heartfelt initiative to help others can do a little bit to be even more “angelic” here on Earth. If we want to be an “angel”, then all we have to do is to help a little to all those who are in need of that goodness, that mercy, that love that will move to us. Let’s do good, become “angels” and be part of this collaboration, which is good to be involved in – stressed István Seszták.
András Törő, the president of the Debrecen Charitable Board, emphasized that the cooperation between the churches, the charitable organizations operating in the city and the city management is unique in this form and serves as an example for others in the country. An example is the way the Debrecen Charitable Board gathers as an umbrella organization those charitable, charitable, helping and assistance foundations, organizations and groups that want to do something for the people living in the city, for those people who are in need. The board changes, enriches, and grows year by year since love must have the characteristic of being inventive. This year, they are starting the collection campaign with such spirit, and they are trying to “flood” the city with Advent Boxes through church communities, state and church-maintained schools, and companies, the latter of which include foreign companies settling here that feel their responsibility towards the community of the city, and they want to become “Debrecen”. Although the charity box fundraiser is a campaign-like event, Christmas will be more beautiful for those who receive help as a result. And if someone only gives charity around Christmas, but every year, this act also shapes and shapes him. If as many people as possible want to help, then our city will be more unified, and we will be able to get closer to each other. This year, in consultation with the church leaders, a little extra will be added to the filled Love Boxes. The recipients will also find a thought and a message in the boxes from the three bishops, as well as a passage from scripture, which aims to bring the spirit of the holiday even closer to us. Putting together the boxes requires a lot of benefactors, helpers, a lot of good intentions, and a lot of work – donating even just a kilo of sugar or flour – said András Törő – but all of this will shape the participants. They may arrive tired on Christmas Eve, but they will be spiritually recharged, and they will be able to continue to give this during Christmas time.
According to Deputy Mayor Diána Széles, the people participating in this collaboration show the strength of the city and represent the value on which Debrecen is built. Debrecen is sending a message that it is not individual interests, but the community, the community of the city that is important. As he emphasized, the city wants to achieve with its care program that it can help everyone, and that those who are in need should not be ashamed to let the community know that they need help. And the intention to help exists in private individuals, families, and companies alike. The Debrecen Charitable Board is ready to deliver the donations to those who need them the most. This is Debrecen – a city that stands up for values and whose community thinks about everyone.
(Debrecen City Hall)