LEHI, Utah (ABC4) – Joe Coccimiglio can’t wait to stage the live nativity scene of his nonprofit group, recreating the biblical story of Bethlehem from inside a barn this holiday season.
He just has to fulfill the most important role.
“Funny as it sounds, we had a hard time finding a baby Jesus for every night,” Coccimiglio laughs.
Getting a camel for this year’s scene, like his band, A Babe is Born, has done in recent years is also proving a bit more difficult.
The rest of the roles, played by actors who will bring the Christmas story to life, are all in place. For the Live Nursery, Coccimiglio brought together a group of Utah-based refugees to role-play and create an immersive experience, complete with sets, animals, and other creative elements. The scene, which will be performed at 7752 N 9150 W in Lehi from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, is also an opportunity to support those in need. Tickets at the door and donations – to which Coccimiglio refers in the biblical sense, a “tax” – will go to support local refugees.
The refugees A Babe is Born works with come from all over the world, from places such as Rwanda, Congo, Nepal, Iraq and Afghanistan. They also have a variety of different religious backgrounds.
Coccimiglio does not see the manger as an opportunity to impose some sort of Christian ritual on refugees, but rather sees it as a chance for those new to the state, and probably the United States as a whole, to meet their neighbors and community. Doing it in a happy and festive atmosphere makes it even better, he adds.
“We will have Muslim and Christian actors and it’s cool to just associate with each other and put all the differences aside and work together and bond and grow together,” he explains. he at ABC4.com “So that was a cool experience and, that was more of the goal. Just to try and show kindness and love regardless of faith or background.
Alongside Coccimiglio is Nema Uwineza, 25, who arrived with her family in Utah as a refugee from Rwanda a few years ago. She first attended the nursery two years ago and remembers it as a great atmosphere to meet new people.
“I met people from different places like Africa and other American states,” Uwineza recalls, adding that she found learning English to be a challenge but she already speaks it. quite well. “We talked a bit and they asked me where I’m from and we talked about ourselves. It was unbelievable. I got to know other people and different stories.
The donations Coccimiglio hopes to raise for his refugee friends are essential in helping them build a better life in Utah. What we need most, he says, is good clothes.
“Food isn’t that big of a deal because there are so many good charities providing food, but the clothes are really tough,” he says. “Buying new clothes instead of used clothes contributes to warmth and dignity.
Asking Uwineza what else families like hers need, she takes the opportunity to thank Coccimiglio for the donations he has made to help his family with a computer and bikes. The gratitude she feels is palpable.
Coccimiglio humbly receives the thanks and mentions to Uwineza how much he loved seeing his family riding their bikes. Returning to ABC4.com, he says times like this are what makes events like building a little piece of the Middle East in a barn in Lehi so rewarding.
“It’s so much work to do to do this thing and sometimes I wonder, ‘Why are we doing this? He said rhetorically. “It’s a lot of extra stress and work, but I think being able to partner and work with people like Nema and her family is worth it.”
After all, it’s the season for feelings like these, he says. When you sum up the holidays to their true meaning, not the giveaways or the marketing of the occasion, scenes like the manger can serve as a powerful reminder of what’s really important, according to Coccimiglio.
“It just puts things in perspective, a little bit about what really matters and how to have joy and how to have happiness in our life. Much less to do with stuff and much more to do with who we are and who can help and bless and love.