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The Magic Paintbrush


By Gregory Kepferle

CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and President, Charities Housing Development Corporation

The other day I happened to take some friends of Catholic Charities on a tour of one of our CORAL after-school literacy sites. We stopped by a table of 18 second and third graders who were reading a book called “Liang and the Magic Paintbrush” by Demi. After reading a description of how the paintbrush could magically create real objects, the after-school instructor asked the students to discuss in pairs what they would create if they had their own magic paintbrush. One student enthusiastically declared, “A dinosaur!” But the other students’ responses were very different and poignant. “If I had a magic paintbrush, I would paint food for the poor,” said one girl. “I would paint food, water and shelter for the poor,” stated another. “I would paint food and housing for the poor,” declared a third.

I was stunned and overwhelmed by their generous spirits – and even more so, when I reflected that these students were children primarily from Vietnamese and Latino immigrant families whose first language at home was not English and whose families struggled every day to pay for food and shelter. They knew from firsthand experience what was most important – food, water, shelter. And they wanted to share those gifts with those who had even less than they did.

“And a little child will lead them,” Isaiah declares in his vision of the peaceable kingdom, the reign of God. (Isaiah 11:6) During this Advent and Christmas Season, I am struck by the wise kindness of these seven- and eight-year-old prophets who show us the way to Christmas.

What would I create even without a magic paintbrush? What gifts can I share now to bring Christmas year round to those who need my gifts? I invite you to join me in contributing through Catholic Charities to children and families right here in Santa Clara County who need our help with food, housing, education, health care, and economic security this Christmas and throughout the year.

For more information or to donate, visit www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.