Chicken Breakfast 2018!!!

 

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Kids charming the camera woman while they line up for candy!

I’m excited to announce the Chicken Breakfast (Desayuno de los Pollos) for 2018! Mark your calendars now for Saturday, December 8th at the API (cruise ship) dock. Help us feed 2500-300 families for two weeks during the holidays. Tickets are 200 pesos for the full breakfast, Christmas bazaar, bake sale, silent auction and raffles. We’d love it if you’d help us sell breakfast tickets! Contact Yolanda at (669) 431-4529, Jorge at (669) 110-0744, or me (dianne@vidamaz.com). We’d also love you to help collect items for the silent auction. Download a gift certificate for restaurant meals, hotel stays, airfares, or donate your artwork or cool gift item!

Also set aside the morning of December 24th to hand out the food, clothing and toys in Mazatlán’s poorest colonias! Begin collecting your items for donation now—gently used household items, sheets, towels, blankets, coats, shoes, clothes, new toys. You can also donate money, 100% of which goes to help those in need.

More details on the 29th annual event follow.

What is the “Chicken Breakfast?”
It is a two-step process to feed the neediest in our community.

First is a fundraising breakfast held in early December to raise money to buy one whole chicken and ten days’ worth of food for each family—we buy for as many families as we possibly can.

Second, on Christmas Eve morning (24 December), dozens of us gather together to load trucks and go out to the invasiones, the poorest, “squatter” areas of Mazatlán, to make people happy and hand out the goods! We give the chickens and foodstuffs, plus gently used clothing, linens, shoes, coats, and new toys and candy.

It is important to know that several of us go out to the squatter areas the week before Christmas. There we meet with area leaders and go around with them to hand out tickets, to ensure that those in need receive what they need, and that no one cheats or “double dips.” We especially want to ensure that we get food and clothes to the elderly and the disabled, so we go door to door to make sure everyone knows about the event, and to make plans to get things to those who can’t walk to the delivery site.

The history:

Yolanda Medina’s daughter, María Yolanda, was very sick. She and her husband kept vigil in the hospital, taking care of all their daughter’s needs. As Yoly’s sister-in-law Isa tells the story:

“It was Christmas Eve 1990, 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 fixings. But that night, a woman knocked on the hospital room door and peeked to see if there was someone with the patient. She came in to hand Yolanda and Modesto a box with a hot Christmas Dinner meal — and told them Merry Christmas and that God was with them. Yolanda never forgot that gesture.

After María Yolanda passed away, 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 all of us volunteered to fill disposable thermal boxes with the hot dinners, load them into 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, something that could 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.”

How to help:

  1. Buy (or sell) tickets for the fundraising breakfast. Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com, or buy them from anyone selling them around town. Post and Ship in the Golden Zone (beside Dolce Mami, across from FedEx) will have tickets also.
  2. Make crafts or baked goods to be sold at the bazaar during the breakfast.
  3. Donate (or gather) items for the silent auction (download a gift certificate, artwork, restaurant meals, hotel stays, airfares…)
  4. Help set up, cook, serve or clean up after the breakfast.
  5. Donate money (in person or click on the link), gently used clothing, diapers, lightly worn shoes, linens, blankets coats, new toys, or candy. 100% goes to those in need. Post and Ship will be happy to collect items if you drop them off there (beside Dolce Mami, across from FedEx).
  6. Help pack the food into packets—the two weeks before Christmas.
  7. Join us to go out with community leaders to deliver tickets for chickens, to ensure all receive their fair share, the weekend before Christmas.
  8. Help us load the trucks and deliver the goodies on December 24th! This is, of course, the most fun and a terrific tradition with friends and family.

When and where is the breakfast?
It’s usually the first Saturday in December, 8:30-10:30 am in the cruise ship dock/API. In 2018 the breakfast will be on Saturday December 8th. Please join us and bring all your friends! Your ticket includes a full homemade breakfast, coffee and juice, a ticket for the door prize, a ticket for the raffle, and access to the Christmas bazaar. This is a very multicultural affair, with announcements in Spanish and English and hundreds of locals and expats attending.

API dock is on Emilio Barragón nearly across from the new OXXO. Below is a map. If you can’t find it, ask any taxi driver or blue shirt/Tourism Volunteer.

API

How can I get to Quince Letras on December 24th?
Come by 6:30 am if you are driving a truck, 7:00 am if you are helping us load and deliver. We usually finish by 11:30 or noon, but some years it’s taken longer (depends how many routes you participate in).

Quince Letras, corner of Tampico and Francisco Villas streets We load from either side of this

Quince Letras, corner of Tampico and Francisco Villas streets We load from either side of this “Coca Cola” store on the corner

LOCATION: 15 (QUINCE) LETRAS, corner of Francisco Villa and Tampico, just down the hill from the Church of Cristo Rey (Christ the King—photo below).

  1. From Avenida del Mar turn East at the Fisherman’s Monument.
  2. Go to the first light and turn right.
  3. Proceed one block and turn left (Francisco Villa street, just before the Pemex station).
  4. Go two blocks.
  5. If you are NOT driving a truck or transporting supplies, please park in the next block. This will give us room for loading. Once you’ve parked, walk another block down, past the iron works business called “Quince Letras.” On the corner of Francisco Villa and Tampico you will see a small store with a bright red “Coca Cola” hand painted on the outside, across from a tortillería. A door next to the Cocheras Automaticas business will be open. That’s Yolanda’s mother’s house, and it’s from there that we’ll be loading.
  6. If you are driving a truck or transporting supplies, please drive up to Tampico street (the “Coca Cola” store on your right on the corner), turn right, and park. We will be loading right there.

IMG_0669If you can’t find it, just ask someone for “Quince Letras” or “Desayuno de los Pollos/Medina family.” Everyone in the area will know.

Merry Christmas to all! And see you there!

  1. Download and view or use a PowerPoint presentation with a full explanation of the project: chicken-breakfast-presentation 
  2. Download a gift certificate to fill out, and we’ll advertise your business or service at the breakfast! Just contact us and we’ll pick it up!
  3. Download and print a poster to help advertise.

Have questions? Contact the organizers:

  • Jorge Medina (speaks English well) on his mobile, (669) 110-0744
  • Yolanda Medina (some English) at (669) 431-4529

Permanent link updated annual: https://vidamaz.com/pollos

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

Best Christmas Ever

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This happy gentleman is deaf and pretty much blind, also. Yet look at the light in his eyes!

Every year, when I go out with Yolanda to pass out tickets for chickens for Mazatlán’s neediest to eat on Christmas, I am amazed at people’s resilience. Living in such difficult conditions—tar paper shacks with rain water trickling (or sometimes crashing) through makeshift roofs and running in on dirt floors, they smile joyfully, decorate their homes with Christmas decorations, plant their yards with flowers, fruit trees and vines, hibiscus and vegetables, and build altars and shrines to those they worship. We find them working hard: washing clothes, sweeping their earthen floors, cooking on outdoor, makeshift stoves. Click on any photo to view it larger or watch a slideshow.

This year, instead of Colonia San Antonio, as we’ve done the past seven years, we went to Rincón de Mazatlán, in Colonia Universo. It’s always difficult. We can’t give chickens and foodstuff to everyone; we only have enough for 2500 families. We try to find the neediest: the disabled, the elderly living alone, those who are ill, injured or unemployed, widows with sick children, families living 13 or 18 people in one tarp-covered lean-to. There are so many of these, sadly.

I was tired when we finished today, yet Yolanda has gone out for the last five days straight, morning and night, to hand out tickets. She seems truly tireless, much more passionate and dedicated than I can dream of being. Oli and his crew have been packing rice, flour, sugar, oil, coffee—two weeks’ worth of foodstuff—every other day for two weeks. Many of you have contributed money, time and talent. A lot of work goes into feeding 2500 families over Christmas, and I am blessed, indeed, to be able to be part of the team. It’s a family tradition; our 22 year old has helped out since he was just six years old. Our nieces make and sell brownies to buy toys for the kids. One local 12 year old this year donated all her Barbie dolls with clothes and accessories in order to make other young girls happy. It’s such a beautiful effort.

Handing out tickets is always challenging. Whoever has a ticket will get a chicken the morning of December 24th. Community leaders want to tell us who to give things to, often because they want to buy votes for their political party with our donations. Or, they don’t want to give a chicken to a family that hasn’t paid their water or gas bill. We don’t want that. We want to help those in need; not play favorites or make demands. Churches will help people, too, but require them to attend their services. We are blessed with people in our community who build homes for the poor, but we are also told how neighbors scam the system, getting ministries to build homes that people who don’t ever plan to live in them rent out to make money.

Today we saw a manufacturing warehouse with an orchard next door, all surrounded by an expensive fence. The owner, we were told, lives in El Cid, and some government official gifted the person seven lots in this squatter community, despite the fact that most living here can barely scrape enough together to pay the property taxes required to eventually claim ownership of the property. Ah, corruption. Finding those who need the most help, who don’t have a voice, is not easy. We were cussed at by one man today when we refused to give him a ticket, yet neighbors told us he sells the surrounding land to unsuspecting buyers, even though he doesn’t own it, cheating them of their life savings. He lived in a nice brick home, and had a late model SUV, in big contrast to most who live here. Different members of families will come to us begging for a ticket, so that can get several sets of chicken and foodstuff; that’s why we need to keep track by house number, and travel with local people who know one the neighborhood and who’s who. Yet, so many people play favorites.

I look forward to Sunday morning, when we hand out the chickens, food, toys and clothes. It is so much fun. It makes Christmas. People are so happy when we arrive, so grateful. If you’d like to help, please join in. It’s a great experience for kids to see how people live without running water and other amenities. The information can be found at http://www.VidaMaz.com/Pollos.

Merry Christmas!I trust your holidays are filled with love and joy, and that the New Year brings you health, peace and community!

Happy People with Chickens!

Thank you all so much!!! We had 2500 very happy families today, on Christmas Eve, who received a whole chicken, bags of food, clothing, toys and candy. Below are just a few of the faces. One man gave me a rose from his bush in thanks. Another lady put on her makeup and best dress, and waited all morning for us to arrive. Then she plead with me to take her photo. Several babies were just a few weeks old. All looked very excited to have a nice Christmas dinner! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Below I will share a few photos of their homes, most made of found, recycled items, including pallets and lonas/canvas signs. Kitchens are almost always outdoors, so boiled chicken will be much more popular than roasted.

Many thanks to EVERYONE who helped make this possible: people who made items, collected items, donated items, helped pack, helped deliver… Especially thanks to the Medina family, who lead this entire project and give us all the opportunity to have the best Christmas ever. Today is the 25th anniversary of Desayuno de los Pollos. Despite having THREE weddings and a baptism in the immediate family, the Medinas still managed to pull off our annual holiday tradition. God bless them, the people we shared this with, and you, one and all!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! If you’d like to join us next year, there are MANY ways to help; click here to learn how.

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.