Since 2007 we have had the privilege, as a family and with families of friends, to participate in Desayuno de los Pollos. It is the BEST way to spend a Christmas Eve morning that you can ever imagine! If you have not yet participated in this homegrown, very powerful effort, now is your chance!
Over 2000 whole chickens and 7-10 days’ of food are given out to families in need in the poorer areas of Mazatlán. Before we participated in this project, we hadn’t even known about some of these neighborhoods.
As in most any city worldwide, amidst the luxury you can find extreme poverty. These colonias on the outskirts of town do not have power or water, and the homes are cobbled together mostly with scraps of wood and metal that residents have been able to find.
The dignity of the people is beautiful to witness, and they are so grateful for the food, the love and joy we bring, as well as the clothing, candy and toys that many of us also collect to hand out that day.
You may know my friend Yolanda Medina. She sells crafts in the Plazuela in the evenings. She is Jorge Medina’s sister. You may know Jorge from Rotary or from his ironwork business, Quince Letras (that’s the area of town the family lives), or his wife Isa, who is very active in our bilingual community as well.
Well, Yolanda is responsible for this most incredible project. She began it back in 1990. Just before that, sadly, her daughter María Yolanda suffered an illness. Here is how Isa tells the story:
“It was Christmas Eve, and María Yolanda’s days were counted. Yolanda and her late husband, Modesto, were in no mood to eat, let alone have a Christmas Dinner with all the fixin´s. But that night, a woman knocked on the hospital room door and peeked to see if there was someone with the patient, and came in to hand Yolanda and Modesto a box with a hot Christmas Dinner meal — roll and all — and told them Merry Christmas and that God was with them. Yolanda never forgot that gesture.”
“After María Yolanda was gone, Yolanda got us all together and told us what had happened. So, the first couple of years, we had culinary arts students volunteer their time to prepare a Christmas Dinner meal, with donated ingredients from friends and family, and again, all of us volunteered to fill the disposable thermal boxes (like box lunches) with the hot dinners and then put them into several cars and pick-up trucks, and off we went, to hospitals, traffic intersections, parks, wherever we thought we might find people that, for one reason or another, wouldn’t be privy to a nice Christmas Dinner.”
“However, this was a huge effort, and very expensive, so we couldn’t cover that much ground. So we thought in terms of something more practical, that may be cooked and prepared at home. This way, we could make sure many more families could have a Christmas Dinner. That’s when we started the Desayuno de los Pollos, and the rest is history.”
The Desayuno de los Pollos project has been written up in the local newspapers the last few years, and has really grown every year we’ve participated. It is a true community effort, with aid now from the food bank (Banco de Alimentos) and Protección Civil.
What funds this ability to buy whole chickens and kitchen staples for 2000 families? A breakfast. Yes, a simple breakfast. This year (2012) that breakfast will be held on Saturday, December 8, from 8:30-11 at the API dock/cruise ship dock. Tickets are 150 pesos.
The breakfast is served by local teenagers who volunteer their time, and your ticket includes a raffle and entrance to a Christmas handicrafts bazaar. It’s fun. Even if you can’t attend, please buy some tickets or make a donation to this very worthy cause. 100% of your donations go to those in need, as everyone involved volunteers their time and talent. A couple of years ago we didn’t have enough money, and Yolanda borrowed $600 from her now-deceased mother in order to buy the required chickens. Let’s get the funds we need for everyone to eat this year!
We hand out the supplies in big convoys to 5-6 different colonies on the 24th of December, starting about 5 or 6 am when we begin packing, sorting, and loading. Anyone coming can bring candy for kids, used good condition clothing to hand out as well. Wear Santa hats. It’s well organized and very humbling. The people receiving the food so need the help, and have so much dignity and gratitude. It’s beautiful.
Yolanda, Isa, and others go out to the colonias a week to ten days ahead of time, to meet with community leaders and organize things, to be sure that every family in need gets a ticket for a chicken and staples. And, so that things are fair, to ensure that some families don’t double dip. It is all incredibly well organized, efficient, and filled with joy.
We are fortunate in Mazatlán to have so many groups and projects designed to help others. This one doesn’t have a formal group surrounding it, more an extended family and friends who come together each year in incredible ways.
Contact me (Dianne) for tickets to the breakfast or to donate items (firstname.lastname@example.org, or cell 6691-22-8962), in English or Spanish. If you know Yolanda, Jorge or Isa, you can always contact them, too. There will be breakfast tickets at the door on December 8, if you prefer to just show up.
If you are able to save your (gently) used clothing and toys for this project, or you or someone you know can donate toys, clothing, or food, or who has a truck to drive on December 24, please let us know!
We do hope you’ll join this project and help us bring joy to more families in need during the holidays. Thanks!
Other posts on this blog about Breakfast of the Chickens: