LINCOLN SQUARE — Patricia Mora grew up in Michoacan, Mexico, and as a child, one of her favorite holiday traditions was checking out her neighborhood’s nativity scenes.
“The women would make nativity displays and they’d be outside facing the street for people to see,” said Mora, in Spanish.
She lives in Lincoln Square now and is continuing the tradition with help from neighbors she met two years ago when she first joined the Rockwell Free Box 2.0 Facebook group.
While the nativity scene Mora created inside her home with donated items is not visible from the street like scenes from her childhood, it is wowing the neighborhood nonetheless after Mora shared photos online.
The Rockwell Free Box 2.0 group allows members make posts about items they don’t need anymore or that they have too many of. The online community helps each other by connecting members who may be in need of those items with the people who have them, she said.
The group’s rules include bans on selling items, offering to buy something or advertising yard and garage sales. Only people who live within the boundaries of Balmoral, Irving Park, Damen and Kedzie can post to the invite-only group.
“It’s a real wonderful group,” she said. “And some people who post collect items for shelters. Or if I know a family who is in need of help because of something bad, like a fire or something, the group will answer their call for help.”
Throughout the year Mora keeps an eye out for items that could work for her nativity display and squirrels them away until winter.
This year the only thing she actually purchased for the nativity display in her home was the background featuring a night sky with stars in it.
Everything else — from the figures, pebbles, sand, lights, Spanish moss and more — was given to her throughout the year from members of the Facebook group.
It took her about two weeks to design and set up the display. Mora said she couldn’t have done it without her neighbor’s donated items.
When she posted photos of this year’s nativity display, neighbors on the group shared it among themselves and gave Mora notes complimenting this year’s creation.
“My neighbors are beautiful people from all different cultures and countries in my community, and they are part of this project,” she said. “This is also a way for me, in the times we’re living, to make something heartwarming. Something that can bring other people joy for a moment.”
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