Second Annual New Year’s Celebration Rings in Hope for 2018

refugee girl at a community center in istanbul

Bringing in the new year often means setting resolutions and planning new routines. For most of us doing different bits to bring happiness into our lives, most will agree that being able to bring joy and happiness to people– children, friends, and acquaintances alike, is a prosperous way to bring in the new year.

This year, Small Projects Istanbul put together a new years eve party for the youth in the community. Over one-hundred kids went through the center to play games and enjoy sweet holiday snacks. All within a matter of two hours! There were about twenty volunteers in coordination with the event and assisted to set-up games and then interacted and directed the kids to different game stations.

smiling syrian child

The center is multiple floors so on each level, there were two interactive games, such as go fish and guessing the mystery flavor! After a child completed one game they got a stamp on their game card and they went around to each game to receive their marking. After the card was filled with markings they headed to the gift room where they were able to choose a wrapped gift! The gifts were thoughtfully funded or donated by people inside and outside Istanbul. We cannot thank enough the many generous donors who made the gift distribution possible.

Arriving early to set up the task was something that was social and fulfilling for volunteers! All of us stood around a large conference table cutting homemade rainbow-colored snowflakes guided by a friendly lady’s YouTube tutorial. I most of us hadn’t practiced the skill since grade school. After the snowflake decorations were cut and the games were organized kids started to pour into the building. All looking for a little bit of joy and a little bit (or a lot!) of candy.

smiling volunteer

One of the crowd pleaser games was a board cut-out with winter scenes painted over four holes. The kids took turns tossing a stuffed animal through the holes. Some of the children were happy to see the reoccurring volunteers greeting them with a hug and sharing encouragement as they made visits to each station.

I personally worked as a go-fish officiator. There were four wooden poles attached to a glittery hook, that was shifted around in a cute blue basket looking to swipe up some candy packages. I believe it was a favorite. Upstairs, Abdullah, their Capoeira instructor, and Assal were working at a station where the kids had to close their eyes and guess the item they were eating. The excitement in that room was filled with laughter and inquisitive faces, as they were set to try nice chocolate and marmalade, but also toothpaste, pickles, and a few lemon slices! After the party hours were over I went upstairs and found an adorable pair of volunteer looking exhausted from all the energized little ones, yet left with the biggest smile on their faces!

syrian girl at community center in istanbul

This event reminded volunteers of what we were able to experience as a kid and how it also brings happiness to children from other parts of the world. Another day at SPI is just another day about friendship and trust-building. Living every day with an open heart is an opportunity to experience friendship and new ways of living and putting ourselves into action in the new year.

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