Margo Tipán fed a plate of beans and arepas to her 8-year-old daughter, Genesis, on Christmas Day, a respite after a long and challenging month.
“This is the first time we have celebrated anything since arriving in this country,” Ms. Tipán said. They came to New York City just a few weeks ago from Ecuador. On Sunday, they celebrated Christmas with about 125 other recently arrived migrants.
The party was held at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism on the Upper West Side. Volunteers from a diverse array of nonprofits and individuals from across the state — most of them Jewish — helped organize the event.
“When none of the churches could be available on Christmas, well, the synagogues naturally stepped up, since we don’t celebrate Christmas!” said Ruth Messinger, the former Manhattan borough president.
Evie Litwok, another volunteer, said the newcomers needed more help from New Yorkers — and not just over the holidays. “I’m drawn to this event today because this is a population needing other humans to care about them,” she said. “I’m thrilled we are doing this, but this is only one day.”
The party guests received gift bags full of warm clothes, scarves, hats, gloves and toys. The highlight of the party was the menu full of South American cuisine: pollo guisado, pabellon criollo, arepas, queso and more.
Santa Claus even made an appearance, posing with children at a makeshift photo booth in the synagogue hallway. While waiting for his family picture to print, Alexander Frías Canario joked about the cold weather and food in New York, comparing them with his life back in Peru. Mr. Canario arrived in the United States with his wife and two children in early October.
The arts and crafts table was crowded with children of all ages, who were busy decorating picture frames and drawing with markers and crayons. Danieliza Piamo, 12, spent half an hour decorating a Christmas tree with her 8-year-old cousin, Steiberlin Vasquez. “I am just so happy for those that have helped us, and that we can be together as a family,” she said. “And, I miss my grandma, because she is back home.”