I’ll admit, this shot wasn’t taken on Dec. 26, but there was too much holiday love to stuff into one day! It was my first time being away from home on Christmas and Chileans celebrate a bit differently than we do in North America. Instead of kids anxiously awaiting Santa and running downstairs to the tree and ripping open presents on the morning of December 25, Latin American culture hosts a huge family dinner on Christmas Eve, and opens presents at midnight. I don’t know when Santa was supposed to come, though. Christmas day is more relaxed, a day for hanging out with the family and usually a hearty lunch. But the big stuff all happens on the 24th.
So, following what my selfless and Good Samaritan parents taught me through example, I decided to search out a place I could volunteer. It didn’t seem like a very popular thing to do here, as I asked everyone who worked at my school, my host family, and some other friends who didn’t know much. I ended up getting in touch with a local spot called Hogar de Cristo (Home of Christ) and after a filling lunch where I met Santa! (seriosuly, look!) set out solo to see what volunteering in Santiago looked like.
It was in Santiago’s center, and obviously an area home to the homeless. When I arrived I helped set up for a feast for the less fortunate, cleaned the streets and organized gift bags of necessities for those in need.
If you would like to volunteer in Santiago, Cristo de Hogar is a great option. Learn more about their organization here: http://www.hogardecristo.cl/