Giving Hearts 2014 Invitation

Friday, October 4, 2013 9:27 AM

It is time for our Giving Hearts project. I would like to share with you all the story of how "Giving Hearts" project came to be.

In 2003 I was invited on a trip to Chiapas. January 1st of 2004 was going to be the 10th anniversary of the EZLN's rise up in arms against the Mexican Government. I was intrigued and so I did go. We back packed this trip. Because it was an anniversary, there were many people from all over the world as spectators. We got to meet some of the most interesting people. One of them was a Mexican anthropologist who had a house in a town close to San Cristobal and invited us to stay and celebrate Xmas eve with his people. At the party, there were people from all over the world and many of them were activists and such. There I met a man from Chile who worked with children from the streets in his country. He recruited them from the streets and tried to get them to leave drugs and rehabilitate so that they could be reincorporated to their families and society. I was captivated by this guy's mission. So on Xmas day we traveled to San Cristobal where the Chilean guy was renting a house. We stayed with him in San Cristobal until January 1st 2004 when the celebrations took place. The most interesting trip ever.

Anyways, when we parted, I asked him, "how can I be of help to your organization?" He said, "easy, through prayer... if you want to help financially, it is up to you what you wanna do or give." So I came back to El Paso and stayed in touch with many of the people that I met including the Chilean guy. Once August came around, I thought, what if I send his kids toys or some kind of gifts. One of my friends who at the time worked downtown with the Vietnamese store owners, he suggested we speak to his boss to get a good deal on smaller, light toys and ship the toys to Chile. So we did and the kids were super surprised and happy. That is how Giving Hearts started.

The following year, I picked a different organization but in Brazil and did the same. Then someone suggested if they could help. Once people found out, friends and customers, they all wanted to donate something. I've learned that people if given an opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves, they will do it.

So we had been doing this for a few years. Usually, we shipped around 100 toys. In 2010 I didn't do Giving Hearts because I was focused on getting Peace of Art going. I felt I had too much on my plate. And then my momma got sick and well, Peace of Art and Giving Hearts were no longer a priority.

In 2012, when the Caravan for Peace came to El Paso, I was invited to a round table with local community leaders and activists. Got opportunity to meet Mr. Xavier Sicilia. There, I learned so much and one of the things that stood out to me: officially over 10,000 children are orphans as the result to the cartel violence from 2006 to 2012. I was shocked and deeply saddened by this information. I thought about what I could do. It bothered me. Speaking with my wonderfully wise mother, she suggested I revive the giving hearts project but keep the toys in the region, specifically Cd. Juarez. I was skeptical about it. I said to her it was too much work, one more project to organize. I thought toys were not enough to make a difference on a child's life. She suggested I think about it. So after some thought and prayer, I realized that if I make "Giving Hearts" a part of Peace of Art, it could work. So I did my small campaign via facebook and with little effort we collected 350 toys and even Soriana donated 10 Roscas de Reyes and Milk for us to take to the children. We also received some extra cash afterwards and that money was deposited into the Peace of art fund. It was such a wonderful experience to see the children's faces light up with joy over a toy!

Although, we had been sending toys to other orphanages in other countries, I never got to experience the moment when the children received their toy. And although, the children in those other countries also need a helping hand, There is a need here in the border. My heart told me we need to focus on our children.

This year our goal is to collect 700 toys. Help us bring smiles to the children. Mother Theresa once said, "Peace begins with a smile."

Thank you for helping us out.

Sandra Salas

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