By Susan Schwartz, TMO
The Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF), the worldâ€™s largest charity dedicated to helping needy children, is familiar to readers of The Muslim Observer. PCRF recently took part in a ceremony called â€œThe Festival of Treesâ€ at the Westfield Mall in West Covina, Ca. The mall is located at 112 Plaza Drive, West Covina, Ca. When completed the trees will greet visitors on level 2 in front of the Sears store and next to Golds Gym. In addition to its visual appeal, the event is a contest with the winner – determined by the votes of visitors to the trees – receiving a $1500 prize. Voting will take place between November 17 and December 24. Non profit community organizations were invited to decorate a bare seven foot Christmas tree.
The PCRF was welcomed into the event when they contacted the concierge, and they chose a theme of snowflakes, decorating their tree to illustrate their mission..
The PCRF selected pictures of the Middle Eastern children who have been sent to California for medical treatment under its auspices. These are children who could not receive optimal medical care in their native country. Their pictures were secured onto snowflakes before being placed on the tree.
In addition there are small stockings with the words â€˜peaceâ€™, â€˜joyâ€™, â€˜hopeâ€™. and â€˜dreamsâ€ that decorate the tree. PCRF will have at the concierge pamphlets that explain the groupâ€™s cancer project, the first of its kind in Palestine. The free pamphlets are titled: â€œHealing Without Bordersâ€. Given the recent acts of atrocity against the residents of Gaza, Palestine, the participation of the PCRF is both appropriate and poignant. In addition to the prize money and the publicity which will accrue to the PCRF, the visiting public will be made aware of the presence of Christians in the Holy Land. The majority of the people who worked on the tree are Muslims, a fact which serves to emphasize the unity of the two religions. This unity is more important than ever given the state of siege perpetrated by Israel.
Lily Karam, the chapter president of the Southern California PCRF chapter said: â€œJesus was born in Bethlehem, and our community has come together regardless of their religious background to decorate the tree.
We are always together for the sake of the children and needyâ€. PCRF members wonder as they look at their tree how many new childrenâ€™s pictures will be added next year as a result of Israeli actions.
To find out more about the tremendous work of the PCRF please access their web site at: _www.pcrf.net_ (http://www.pcrf.net).