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Photos courtesy of Lee Morales, American Society of Sao Paulo

Once again, the American Society of Sao Paulo hosted the Angel (Christmas) Party for some 210 children of Sao Paulo. These youngsters are orphans, or children who participate in after-school programs for the disadvantaged (programs that help turn their lives around).

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Organized by an extremely hard-working group of volunteer leaders and their legion of volunteers, the day features lunch, games and sports, crafts, entertainment (including a visit from Ronald McDonald), ice cream and food treats galore, and finally, gift bags from Santa.

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Brigadeiros, a Brazilian treat of luscious chocolate!

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(Just an aside: I think next year, Santa’s costume should be cut off at the knees and the elbows, a la Bermuda shorts, so that he doesn’t almost roast in the 80+-degree heat! And maybe a Santa baseball cap instead of the wig, beard, and velvet cap!)

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Volunteers included AmSoc adults and their children, Scouts (Girl and Boy), semi-pro athletes, clowns and performers, and volunteers from different organizations.

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Two of Santa’s elves.

It’s a day designed to delight and distract. From what I saw, mission accomplished!

I get such joy watching the kids run free (amok?), reveling in the open air, the green grass, and adults whose only focus on that day is providing them with fun.

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Throughout the year, the American Society (AmSoc) has fundraisers to help defray the cost of the day, along with donations from generous sponsors and families who buy gifts for one child or more. Each gift bag contains: a pair of pants, a sweatshirt, a pair of sports shoes, a shirt, socks, underwear, a backpack, a toy worth US$35 or so, and candy. Families can purchase these items themselves, or donate US$200 and have the items purchased on their behalf.

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We buy the items ourselves, since I enjoy picking out each item individually for the child. Both years, I have also had the pleasure of watching the child open her gifts. This is our little angel this year, Paloma.

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I always wish I could buy them so much more, but I know that each child should get about the same amount.

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One thing that struck me is that the older kids often seemed just to barely open the wrapped packages, as though to verify what they knew would be inside. Perhaps this is understandable, given that some have received the same “set” of gifts for years. I know no way around it, and I know they “should” be grateful to get what they receive, but variety might be nice for the older kids (say, 14 and above…up to the 18 allowed before they are launched into the world on their own).

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As I watched the kids climb onto the buses carrying their gifts and the trinkets they had won throughout the day, I was struck by how contentedly tired they seemed. I have no idea what life each returns to, but for a day, they were in a wonderland of freedom, fun, and festivity.

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Congratulations, American Society volunteers. You did an awesome job of delighting!

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