Chickens for Christmas 2017

DSC_4956I trust you all are enjoying wonderful holidays, and that 2018 will bring you much health and joy.

This year as we handed out chickens and food to over 2500 needy families, the most popular items— other than the food, of course—were the blankets and tools! We had a few drills, some hand tools, and a couple of electric tools, and my oh my did this make the men happy! Fortunately we had 80 blankets, thanks to the generosity of one donor and the intelligence and kindness of an expat couple who traveled to Guadalajara to buy them. If we had had 800, people would have been thrilled. We chose the elderly most in need as recipients of the very soft and warm blankets. Click on any photo to view it larger or watch a slideshow.

 

The spinners and the balls were just some of the many toys that our nieces bought with the proceeds from the sale of their brownies. Lots of local children donated their gently used toys, so this year we were blessed to be able to make over 300 children very happy. Perla and Brisa, the two neighborhood girls who have accompanied us the past five years joined in again; they have gotten really good and bringing Christmas cheer to those in need. Baby things are also very popular: diapers, clothes, blankets.

 

Our group handed out food, clothing, shoes and toys in three places this year: Rincón de Mazatlán (in Colonia Universo/Ébano), El Basurón (the city dump) and Rancho de los Niños. We felt especially blessed that it was just our group this year: our family, our good friends the Hernández, and friends of ours and theirs. It rocked to be together with loved ones on Christmas bringing smiles to the faces of everyone from 90 to 3 months!

We tried a new method of handing things out that worked wonderfully. As you can imagine, people get anxious and over-eager, and that makes for lots of confusion if we don’t manage things well. Well, we lined up our heavily-laden trucks and cars as usual: chickens first, then despensas/food, followed by toys. Once all that was given out, we opened up the clothes, displaying them on the ground on sheets as if in a store, and keeping the line moving steadily.

 

We announced the plan to everyone ahead of time, so that those who wanted clothes would stick around. They were all lined up, the community leaders had made sure of that, and then our volunteers lined up as well, forming a human chain or wall between those in the line and the gifts. At first we felt awkward, but it worked beautifully! No more cutting the line, everyone got something, it felt organized and there was happiness galore. Bless all our volunteers and their smiling faces and love-filled hearts!

We had so many clothes and shoes this time that, despite serving over 350 families, we had extra! I especially loved how everyone tried on shoes to make sure they fit, leaving them for others if they didn’t, and then glowed with happiness when they found the perfect pair of leather flip flops or high heels. We packed up the leftover clothing and shoes and left them with the community leaders to hand out to those in need who couldn’t make our event on Christmas Eve morning.

 

People really love blankets and other bedding, including sheets and pillows. They love pots and pans and kitchen things; most have outdoor kitchens and these items don’t last long. If you have any extra tools you don’t use, or see any at garage sales this summer and you drive down, please bring them! My one great sadness this year was a gentleman who showed up at 11:30 with a ticket for a chicken AND food, but we’d already handed it all out. He didn’t want toys or clothes, and in his disappointment was very upset with us. We had asked them to show up at 8:30, so he was late. But, he really was looking forward to the chicken. I didn’t have any cash on me to give him, and he left in a huff. God bless him; I do hope something else happened to make his Christmas beautiful.

We started loading at Quince Letras about 6am. We are a multinational group of locals and expats, including dozens of young adults, many of whom have been doing this since they were kids and who now bring their friends—the next generation. I love watching them grow in strength of character and love each year. We also have a solid group of children who join in to help. We form bucket brigades or rally lines to load the trucks with food, toys and clothes, then set out on different routes to reach people all the way to Villa Unión. This year we also served the community of desplazados, those displaced by violence in the Sierras; I was thrilled with that! After loading all the trucks and cars, we form a large circle to say a prayer, and then we are off!

 

Our group first went to the Basurón, then Rincón de Mazatlán, and finished up visiting Rancho de los Niños, where we all enjoyed playing with the disabled kids. Hugging and loving on them made for a perfectly wonderful end to our Christmas Eve morning. We saw the new buildings that are being built for Rancho de los Niños by Back to Back Ministries, including a physical therapy pool. The new digs look great and should be ready early in the new year!

 

THANK YOU ALL immensely, for participating in the myriad ways you do! We look forward to seeing you again next year. I have written lots of stories and posted many photos of this event over the past 16 years. Just search for “pollos” or “chicken” in the search box if you’d like to see more. And remember, details can be found at www.VidaMaz.com/Pollos

OMG! You ROCK!

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  • My Mazatlecan nieces made delicious brownies and packed them in mason jars, then sold them to raise money to buy toys. I am so proud of their caring for others.
  • Helen James had her birthday party and asked everyone attending to bring toys for Pollos’ kids instead of gifts. Thanks to her friends we have three garbage bags full of brand new gorgeous toys.
  • Kathryn Stillings, a friend and co-worker, requested that we donate to Pollos instead of giving her a Christmas gift this year.
  • Salsa and Salsa took up a collection for a second year in a row and donated the proceeds.
  • Friends went all around town to collect gift certificates and items for our raffles and the silent auction.
  • About a dozen different women sewed and crocheted items during the year to donate to Pollos. Hey, guys? You make things, too; I know you do! 😉 There is always next year.
  • My friends and nieces showed up to a charity breakfast and, when we were short on wait staff due to people not showing up, they volunteered to help (even though they’d paid for tickets).
  • Other friends volunteered to sell raffle tickets, even though they’d also paid to attend. So generous!
  • Jeanette Leraand sold dozens of tickets, brought her zumba group to entertain us at the breakfast, and conducted a 50/50 raffle, out of the generosity of her heart.
  • Sonrisas, a local charity that gives scholarships to deserving yet needy young people, donated items to help us. I donate my photos to their fundraiser calendar each year; what goes around comes around!
  • Nearly 400 people showed up this morning to a fundraiser breakfast. Nationals showed curiosity about our foreign customs (“what’s a silent auction and did I win?”), we expats learned about Mexican customs (“2 hours of door prizes?”) and we all enjoyed one another’s company and a common purpose.
  • And you, no doubt, did something awesome as well!

I could go on and on. We are so incredibly blessed in this community with people who love and give, who want to help others and act on that desire. God bless you all! And thank you Yolanda Medina, who started Desayuno de los Pollos 27 years ago in honor of her namesake daughter. Please know that 4000 families, many of whom live in houses constructed of lonas / vinyl, cardboard or recycled pallets, most of whom don’t have electricity or water, will eat well for two weeks at Christmas and New Year’s because of YOU!

An extended community of expats and foreigners sold 700 tickets to the Desayuno de los Pollos / Chicken Breakfast this year, and 100% of the money taken in (180 pesos/person) goes to buy whole chickens and food / despensas for needy families (food, preparation and serving are all donated). The silent auction that I’ve been in charge of, to which a whole community of people contribute, raised 38,000 pesos this year to buy food and chickens. All of this means your donations and purchases are helping feed families for two weeks at Christmas time! Bless you! You totally and completely rock!

Please patronize the businesses that support those in most need in our community. I will list some of them below. Many others contributed to the raffles but I don’t have your names; let me know and I’ll add you to the list. Please, next time you visit one of these businesses, thank them for supporting Desayuno de los Pollos and your Mazatlán community; tell them they are good community citizens and that you appreciate them.


Ana María Osuna Rose Massage
Azteca Inn
Casa de Leyendas
Chuy’s Organics
Gaia Bistrot
Galería de Rosy
Galería Uno
Irma Alicia Gastelúm Lizárraga, artista
Karen Devine
Martha Parra, artista
May Woodford, fiber artist
Quince Letras Wrought Iron
Ricardo’s Leather Shop
La Rosa de las Barras de Piaxtla
Wendy of the baby quilts

I don’t know the names of everyone who so generously contributed, so please let me know if yours is missing and I’ll add it in!

For those of you who want to help pack food, THANK YOU. The Medina family will start packing things next Wednesday, December 14th. You can head over to Quince Letras almost any day from then till the 24th to help; call one of them first to check. They are celebrating the weddings of TWO different children this year, so EXTRA KUDOS to their family for doing the “Chickens” this year as well! I no doubt would have cancelled for sanity’s sake.

We will see the rest of you on December 24th! Instructions are in the link. Blessed holidays! Just imagine what a wonderful world it would be if everyone were as generous and considerate of others as those involved in this effort. I like that thought; we might just grow some justice and equity in this world. It’s a pleasure to know you all and work with you.