In a world of war, violence, hatred, and confusion, be these mirrors of Christ’s love instead

One hundred students of F.B. Leon Guerrero Middle School will be getting Christmas presents Friday because of the love of their teacher, a complete stranger stationed on the U.S.S. Frank Cable, a businessman, and two teachers and their students from Guam High School.

FBLG teacher Tara Lubrani last month noticed a couple of her students walking around with holes in their shoes and started to ask friends for donations for them.

Word got to two Guam High teachers who were her former neighbors at Summer Towers – Dr. Cynthia Evans and Martie Prado – and before long their students held a donation drive.

“Guam High School SGA did a drive for our school,” Ms. Lubrani said. “They gave us four extra large Home Depot bags filled with black slacks, trousers, and shorts. Because those match the colors for Simon Sanchez High School, they made the donation there. And it works out perfectly because our students end up going to Sanchez.”

Her husband, who works on the U.S.S. Frank Cable, then started asking his co-workers for donations for the FBLG kids.

“Someone saw it – this complete stranger – and asked ‘who’s this person asking for shoes for kids?’” Ms. Lubrani recalled. “I guess they have this organization on the ship that consists of chiefs, and they usually donate to Toys for Tots. Because she saw the request, she suggested getting Christmas gifts for the FBLG kids. She reached out and asked what the kids need.”

The stranger – Kadia Griffin – began coordinating donations after committing to sponsor 10 students. “For each of the students she asked for a school need, a personal need, and a Christmas wish,” Ms. Lubrani said of Ms. Griffin.

“Two days later, it went up to 20,” Ms. Lubrani said. “Then 35. Then to 100!”

Tara Lubrani and Kadia Griffin embrace two nights ago in front of the Christmas presents Ms. Griffin coordinated among her co-workers on the U.S.S. Frank Cable for FBLG Middle School students.

“One of my students’ father was in the ICU and they even got stuff for her father,” she said of Ms. Griffin and the donors from the U.S.S. Frank Cable. “Sadly, he passed away Friday.”

Despite how far the word had spread of this charity, only one Guam businessman responded and donated gifts for the kids: Ed Gaza, the president of Opake. “He very graciously granted some kids wishes today,” Ms. Lubrani said. “He was the only businessman that did this for the kids. I am very grateful for his generosity.”

On Friday, Ms. Griffin, Mr. Gaza, and others will be bringing the remainder of the gifts to Okkodo High School, where the FBLG students are attending school while the government figures out what to do about their Yigo campus.

Tara Lubrani accepts Christmas gifts from Ed Gaza of Opake that will be given to FBLG Middle School students.

“These people are so amazing,” Ms. Lubrani said, fighting back tears. “They’re trying to find ways to make Christmas a little brighter.”

“At first I just wanted my kids to see this so they would learn to give back and it just spiraled,” Ms. Griffin said about the reason she answered her co-worker’s request to help the FBLG students. “I asked a few people and it just took off from there.”

Ms. Griffin, who is from Jamaica, said she grew up in a small home “seeing my mom always giving back. No matter how little we had, she always had room for other people.”

A box full of clothes donated by students at Guam High School was given to students at Simon Sanchez High School.

“I came from humble beginnings,” she said. “It’s overwhelming in a good way. Heartwarming,” she said about the response she got from sailors on the Frank Cable.

“She is such a selfless person,” Ms. Lubrani said about her new friend, Ms. Griffin. “She does not gain anything from this. I just had to tell somebody. I have not met somebody so selfless.”

“The gratitude for me is seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces,” Ms. Griffin said.

In this season of Christmas, the parallels we can draw between Ms. Griffin, Ms. Lubrani, and everyone who joined in this charity are stunning to words spoken 2,000 years ago by the reason for the season:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

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