Project Destiny of Pittsburgh
―Creating opportunities for children and parents‖
December, 2010 Volume 1, Issue 11
Holiday traditions past, present and future
Saturday, December 11, 2010, 11:30 A.M.
Join us for our Annual
Inside this issue:
Kwanzaa 2 We’ll have good food, games, a
Barbara Joy, Family Traditions 2 sing along, music and gifts
The Real Santa 3
RSVP required by Monday,
Holiday Safety 3
The Birth of Jesus 4 December 6, 2010.
Rev. Andrew Cooper , Family 4 Space is Limited.
Inexpensive Gift/Craft Ideas 5
Project Destiny has its own Christmas traditions. Each year we put up our
train set which features railroad cars displaying many of the great Pittsburgh
Aujah Thompson, her essay on 6
Getting Involved based companies such as Islay’s (they had great chipped ham and home
made ice cream), Heinz and of course The Pittsburgh Steelers. We also have
Up-coming Events and 6
freight cars representing the Edgar Thompson Steel Mill. Rev. Gregg grew up
in North Braddock and remembers walking to her job as a candy stripper at
Braddock Hospital where she’d pass by Islay’s and with her twenty cents in
hand had to get her crispy Klondike before going to work. Her father and
grandfather both worked at Edgar Thompson for many years. Our giant Christ-
mas tree sits in one corner with a beautiful angel smiling down from the very tip
top and our entire building is decked out in red and green with twinkling lights
everywhere. Christmas is a joyous, family time to be shared and enjoyed. At
our party last year we invited Dora and of course Santa and his rain deer and
they all paraded around the room hugging everyone as they went. We’d like
to let you know that they will all be with us again this year and they’ll be bring-
ing a few new friends. As we continue our holiday traditions we’d like all of you
to share them with us. Please make the Project Destiny’s Christmas celebra-
tion one of your family holiday traditions. Join us on Saturday December
Donations to Project Destiny-We’d like to thank all our friends and families for their continued support of our
programming. Your gift is so important in helping us continue our service to the community. Please visit our website at
www.projectdestinypgh.org and ―click‖ on the donate button at the bottom of any of our pages to make your contribution.
Gifts can also be sent to Project Destiny directly, payable to Project Destiny. You will receive a tax deductible donation letter in
return for your gift. Thank you in advance for your support.
Page 2 December, 2010 Project Destiny of Pittsburgh
Holiday traditions that celebrate our history, family and religious beliefs.
The African celebration of Kwanzaa was a ceremony of appreciation for the "first fruits of har-
vest". The four elements that made up the original African meaning of Kwanzaa were unity,
awareness of ancestry and heritage, recommitment to traditional values, and reverence for
creator and the creation. The modern celebration of Kwanzaa lasts seven days, from
December 26 to January 1st. Each of the seven days of the celebration is dedicated to one
of the seven principles. Each day one candle is lit that represents each principle.
Day 1 - middle candle - Black - Umoja - Unity
Day 2 - innermost red candle - Kujichagulia - Self-determination
Day 3 - innermost green candle - Ujima - Collective Work and Responsibility
Day 4 - middle red candle - Ujamaa - Cooperative Economics
Day 5 - middle green candle - Nia - Purpose
Day 6 - outermost red candle - Kuumba - Creativity
Day 7 - outermost green candle - Imani - Faith
There are many symbols of Kwanzaa. The candelabra is called a kinara. The straw mat that the kinara is placed
on is a mkeka. Ears of corn are also placed on the mat, one to represent each child in the household. They are
called the vibunzi (or muhindi). A fruit basket is placed on the mkeka, and is called the mazao. The unity cup is
also placed on the mkeka, and is called the kikombe chaumoja. The seven candles that are placed in the kinara
are called the Mishumaa Saba. Finally, all the gifts are called the zawadi and are traditionally given on Imani -
the last day of Kwanzaa.
On the evening of Kuumba (December 31) there is a feast called Karamu. This is the main focus of Kwanzaa
where cultural expression is encouraged. This is practiced to bring all participants closer to their African roots.
The program for the Karamu generally involves a welcome, a remembrance of ancestry, a reassessment of situa-
tions, a recommitment to values, a rejoicing, a farewell statement, and a call for greater unity.
Barbara Joy (Youth Coordinator at Project
Destiny) celebrates both Christmas and
Kwanzaa with her family
Barb says, ―Our holiday customs are centered on
family. Individual family groups enjoy Christmas
Eve together opening gifts under the tree. On
Christmas Day, forty or more of us come together
for a wonderful day of sharing our family history with
the young, playing games, and eating a wonderful
traditional meal. It is a real family time filled with laughter and sharing. We all
share in the cooking and we have dishes from Jamaica to South Carolina to
Mississippi to New York. Because there are so many of us we each bring a
wrapped gift and we play a game called ―The Elephant Game.’’ Anyone can
decide to exchange their wrapped gift for someone else’s. This goes back and
forth about 3 times and the excitement escalates as the gifts move around the
room. Finally, we all hope we got a very special gift when it is time to unwrap
our surprise. What Fun!‖ Kwanzaa ,which starts on Dec 26 and ends on Jan 1,
has been in our family since 1970. Because of the seven principals of Kwanzaa
we felt this was a wonderful way to teach our children about these values.
It does not replace our own religion or religious holiday. The seven principles of
Kwanzaa gives us an opportunity to remind our children of the importance of
family, community, and culture.
Page 3 December, 2010 Project Destiny of Pittsburgh
The real Santa lived a long time ago in a place called Asia Minor. It is now the country of Turkey.
His name was Nicholas. Nicholas' parents died when he was just a teenager. His parents left him a
lot of money which made him a rich young man. He went to live with his uncle who was a priest.
Nicholas heard about a man who had lost all his money. He had three daughters who were old enough
to get married. But in those days young women had to have money in order to get married. This money was a
"dowry" and it was used to help the new family get started. If you didn't have dowry money, you didn't get married.
This family was so poor they had nothing left to eat. The daughters were going to be sold as slaves because they
couldn't live at home any longer. They were very sad. They wouldn't be able to have families of their own. And they
would have to be slaves—no longer able to decide where they would live or what they would do. The night before
the oldest daughter was to be sold, she washed her stockings and put them in front of the fire to dry. Then all of
them went to sleep—the father and the three daughters.
In the morning the daughter saw a lump in her stocking. Reaching in, she found a small, heavy bag. It had gold
inside! Enough to provide food for the family and money for her dowry. Oh, how happy they were! The next
morning, another bag with gold was found. Imagine! Two of the daughters would now be saved. Such joy!
And the next night, the father planned to stay awake to find out who was helping his daughters. He dozed off, but
heard a small "clink" as another bag landed in the room. Quickly he jumped up and ran out the door. Who did he
catch ducking around the corner?
Nicholas, the young man who lived with his uncle. "Nicholas, it is you! Thank you for helping us, I hardly know what
to say!" Nicholas said, "Please, do not thank me, thank God that your prayers have been answered. Do not tell
others about me." Nicholas continued helping people. He always tried to help secretly. He didn't want any
attention or thanks. Years passed and he was chosen to be a bishop. Bishops look after their people as shepherds
look after their sheep. And that is what Nicholas did. When there wasn't any food, he found wheat; so no one went
hungry. He always helped people in trouble. All his life Nicholas showed people how to love God and care for each
other. —Carol Myershttp://www.stnicholascenter.org
Use Candles with Care Electrical Safety Stay Warm Safely
Walk around your home and When decorating, inspect cords Look for the UL Mark on your space
move candles away from for damage and fraying and heater and read the instructions before
anything that can burn. Store always keep extension cords using it. Move space heaters at least
matches and lighters away away from where children play. three feet away from anything that can
from children and be sure to Never run an extension cord burn (e.g., curtains, blankets) and
blow out candles before you under a rug or tack it up to a never leave a space heater on when
leave the room or go to sleep. wall with a nail or staple. you leave the room or go to sleep. Be
Never leave a burning candle sure to teach children (and practice it
unattended. yourself) to never place anything on
top of a space heater to dry.
Financial Safety– Give a Gift from the heart
Handmade gifts can also stretch your budget. Granted, not everyone has the creative skills of Martha Stewart, and
handmade gifts may not be appropriate for everyone on your list. Still, you can use your talents to lighten the strain
on your wallet.
Try a basket of inexpensive items, nicely arranged. Or, combine homemade goods, like chocolate chip cookies, with
a purchased item, like a holiday platter, for an appealing gift at a reasonable price. One caveat: Watch the prices of
the ingredients and supplies, or a budget-stretcher can become a budget-breaker. Some family members or friends
may appreciate your time more than an expensive gadget. Rather than get a new coffee maker for your great-aunt,
could you take her to the movies or help her run errands?
Page 4 December, 2010 Project Destiny of Pittsburgh
The Birth of Jesus
One day about 2,000 years ago an angel named Gabriel appeared to a
young Jewish woman named Mary. Gabriel told Mary she would have a son,
Jesus, who would be the Son of God! Mary was confused and worried about
this sudden news, but she had faith in God and said, "I am the Lord's
servant; let it be as you say."
Mary and her husband-to-be, Joseph, lived in a town called Nazareth. But
they had to travel to the city of Bethlehem to register for a census ordered by
the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. Both Nazareth and Bethlehem are
in the country now called Israel. It is about 65 miles (105 km) from Nazareth
to Bethlehem, and the trip probably took them several days.
When Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, there was no place for them to
stay because the inn was already full. They ended up spending the night in a stable, a place where animals were
kept. There was probably fresh hay on the floor that they used for beds.
That night, Jesus was born. There was no crib, so they laid baby Jesus in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.
The manger probably had fresh hay in it and made a nice bed for the baby.
That night, some shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem, keeping watch over their flocks of sheep. An angel
appeared to them and gave them the good news that a Savior, the Messiah, had been born. The angel told the
shepherds they could find Jesus lying in a manger. Suddenly a whole group of angels appeared saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
The shepherds hurried into Bethlehem and found Jesus in the manger, just as the angel had told them. After they
had seen Jesus, they spread the news, and everyone who heard was in awe.
Some time later, wise men, or magi, from eastern countries saw a star in the sky that signaled the birth of a new
king. They came to Judea, the region around Jerusalem and Bethlehem, to worship Jesus, the new king.
A man named Herod was the king of Judea. He called the wise men to a meeting and told them to find the new
king so he could go and worship him, too.
The wise men continued on to Bethlehem and followed the star until it was directly above the house where Jesus
was. They found Mary and Jesus in the house and knelt down to worship Him. They brought Jesus gifts of gold,
frankincense, and myrrh, some of the finest things in the ancient world. Frankincense was burned to make a
sweet smell, and myrrh was an expensive perfume.
After visiting Jesus, the wise men had a dream that warned them not to go back to King Herod, so they took a
different route home.
Rev. Andrew Cooper remembers his traditions
Andrew Cooper is a family therapist and also works as a Cultural Consultant for Pro-
ject Destiny’s Inua Ubuntu Project. He grew up in Manchester and he says that the
holidays were exciting times when he was a child, especially Christmas. He said the
Holiday’s were always family times when everyone came together, shared a meal and
enjoyed each other’s company and this included extended family.
The best toy that he remembers getting for Christmas was a Play mobile which was a
working miniature car dash board. It had an ignition key, steering wheel, and horn and
made a sound like an engine so he felt as if he was actually driving a car. Andrew has one brother 5 yrs
older and remembers when they got a bike for Christmas. His family never had much money but he and his
brother shared the bike and enjoyed riding through the neighborhood. He said although they didn’t have a lot
they always got one special toy and always had what they needed. Andrew’s Father’s brother lived next door
and so they didn’t have to travel too far to visited family and cousins. Andrew still keeps these family
traditions and still finds Christmas exciting and enjoyable.
Page 5 December, 2010 Project Destiny of Pittsburgh
Inexpensive Craft/Gift ideas that kids will have fun making
From http://familyfun.go.com here are some fun Christmas Craft ideas
Santa Christmas Card
Red craft paper, Glue stick, Plain note card or card stock. Tempera paints
1. Cut Santa-hat shapes (minus the pom-poms and white trim) from the craft paper,
then glue one onto each card. Glue a pair of googly eyes a fingertip's width below each
2. Pour white tempera paint onto one paper plate, and a dollop each of red, black,
and pink (mix some red and white) onto another. Stamp white handprint beards, then
use fingertips to stamp the trim on the hats, and a nose, mouth, and cheeks on each
Crunchy the Snowman-
1. To make a batch, melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips in the top of a double
boiler. (place a heat proof bowl over a pan of hot water-water should not touch the
bottom of the bowl).
2. One at a time, dip one end of an 8-inch pretzel rod in the melted chocolate and
use a plastic spoon or knife to spread the chocolate two thirds of the way down the
3. Set the pretzels on a sheet of waxed paper and press on mini chocolate chips for
eyes and buttons. Use orange decorators' gel to add a carrot nose.
4. When the chocolate has hardened, stand the pretzels in a mug or glass and tie on
strips of fruit leather for scarves. For each hat, stretch a gummy ring over the
narrow end of a gumdrop and secure it on the pretzel rod with a dab of melted
Recycle old crayons into new ones (Great inexpensive gift idea)
Have lots of crayon stubs that are too small to hold on to? Don't throw them out!
You can use them to create big, chunky crayons – and your kids can help.
Time Required: 25 minutes
1. Gather up all of your broken crayons, and cut them into small pieces. (An adult will need to complete this step.)
2. If you don't have a muffin tin to devote to crayon making, you can line your regular muffin tin with foil cups.
3. Candy and soap making molds can also be used to create fun, shaped crayons.
OR you can fill a muffin tin with an inch-thick layer of crayon pieces.
4. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
5. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the wax is melted.
6. Allow the tin to cool; then pop out the crayons, and they're ready for use.
Page 6 December, 2010 Project Destiny of Pittsburgh
Aujah Thompson was one of nine “Girls on the Move” who won a trip to Destin, Florida this past
summer. She goes to Allegheny Traditional Academy and is now in the 7th grade. Her essay
speaks to why getting parents and mentors involved is so important.
Other Up-Coming Events and Programs
Chess Club for children ages 8 to 16. English Benton of the Northside Old-timers is facilitating the club.
The Chess club will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30p-6:45p (Begins November 30th but children
can start anytime).
Skating Party at Neville Island Rink-Sunday, December 5th from 5:00p-8:30p. Sponsored by the Northside
Old Timers. Call Barb at Project Destiny for more information.
NOOK – Nurturing Our Own Kids-December 15th at 6:30p.
CYF (Children and Youth Services) Holiday Celebration, December 17th at Hosanna House, 6p to 9p.
“Reality Check”-Tuesday December 7th from 7:00p to 8:30p—For boys only. Ages 12 and up.
The Northside Old Timers will speak about the realities of street life and taking charge of your life to get
boys back on the right track.
New Year’s Eve at Project Destiny-December 31, 2010 at 10:00p. Come celebrate our blessings and
hopes for the New Year. We’ll have good music, food and fellowship. RSVP by December 27th.
Healed without Scars- Rev. Brenda Gregg will facilitate this 8 week session on dealing with family trauma.
Begins Jan 5th at 6:30p. Child care provided. Call us to register for this dynamic support group.
2200 California Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Web site: www.projectdestinypgh.org
"Creating opportunities for children and parents"
Founder and Executive:
Rev. Brenda J. Gregg
Writer and Editor:
Rev. Joyce Thomas,
Mollie Robinson, LPN,
Jammie Albert, M.Ed. Whatever your Christmas and Holiday traditions, take some time to give
thanks for your family and the many blessings you have. The best gift you
can give anyone is your time and loving attention.
In order to provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals, employment decisions at Project Destiny will be
based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. Project Destiny of Pittsburgh. does not discriminate with regards to race, color, sex, national
origin, disability, age or any other characteristic protected by law.