A Christmas Story

David Haney is a member of the St Paul Catholic Church since 1995 and a member of the Pinellas Support Committee since 2003. Maria McCourt is a NFWM Board Member and Coordinator of the Pinellas Support Committee in Florida.

A Santa Story by David Haney
Rigoberto3.JPGMaria and I, with the help of many wonderful supporters, contributors, and volunteers, visited some twenty migrant farm worker camps in Plant City and Dover each year providing these workers with food, clothing and Christmas gifts during the long winter months when they have little work and meager pay checks. This year we provided Christmas gifts to nearly 770 children.

One of the many generous contributors during the past two years has been Country Park Trailer Park, a 55+ community located in Clearwater, Florida. Most of these volunteers live up north but fly south to Clearwater during the winter months (Snow Geese). Many of the Country Park residents collected money and graciously provided Christmas Gifts to about 14 migrant families, living at a migrant camp outside of Plant City. A dozen of these Country Park residents and I drove in a convoy to a pre-designated migrant camp, our vehicles loaded with Christmas gifts, food, clothing items, and lots of Christmas cheer. As we arrived, we all got out of our vehicles and donned our red & white Santa hats. We knocked on the door of each of the six trailers, one by one. These individual “Santa’s” provided each family with Christmas gifts for each child, an impressive amount of food, a Christmas card, and some clothing. Then the Country Park volunteers sang “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad” before heading out to the next trailer, until all six trailers were visited.

While we were visiting each family in our Santa hats, singing Christmas songs, and delivering the bundles of toys, food and clothing, a small boy came running over to our group from across the street with a letter in his hand. No one knew who he was, running over by himself from a distant trailer. He wasn’t a resident of the trailer park we were visiting but it was difficult to ignore his enthusiasm. The boy, no older that seven years old, handed one of our volunteers a letter and then quickly disappeared back to his parent’s trailer, across the street. The top of the letter had a drawing of Santa Claus, where the little boy colored in Santa’s rose colored cheeks and large red hat. Underneath the Santa drawing were lines where the elementary grade teacher obviously instructed her little students to write a letter to Santa, using their best writing skills.

“Dear Santa Claus, How are you…would like 1….2….3. I like to hav a meshen tomes and two cars and I like three backogans”, signed Rigoberto.

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Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Service and a Call to Action

TDay1-CA-2010_0.jpgThe newly formed Interfaith Advisory Committee presented a beautiful prayer service remembering farm workers and the struggle they still suffer in the fields. Two days before Thanksgiving, NFWM-California gathered at St. Anne’s Shrine in Santa Monica. Fr. Arturo, Pastor at St. Anne’s set the tone; he had fruit hanging from trees leading to the altar for the service. St. Anne’s eight grade students participated in the service, processing between the fruit filled trees. A group of them picked the fruit, placed it in baskets and brought the baskets to the altar. The service was led by Msgr. John Moretta, Pastor, Resurrection Church, LA.

Rabbi Steven Jacob, passionately addressed the congregation: “Recently somebody said something that is so horrible, so terrible, that even you as young people would react to it. Somebody actually said, ‘Stupid Indians, Indians are of no use, of no use, Indians don’t understand anything or can’t do anything’. The worst, the worst hatred against any other person. And these are the kinds of insults from supervisors, made to indigenous workers at Giumarra Vineyards. And this morning, nationwide on NPR they exposed what’s happening to women, particularly in the fields.” People in America, across this land, the week of Thanksgiving are aware of the bitterness and hatred that exists towards farm workers.

Time to Stop Human Trafficking, by Dr. Sam Trickey

The following Op-Ed was published January 10, 2011 in gainesville.com, the on-line version of the Gainesville Sun. The author, Dr. Sam Trickey, is a member and Past President of the Board of Directors of the National Farm Worker Ministry.

Sam Trickey: Time to stop human trafficking

January 11th is worldwide Human Trafficking Awareness Day. According to the State Department’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons report, “the majority of modern slaves (are) in agriculture and mining around the world.”

It happens here. Last July, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted 3 people for holding over 50 farm workers in northern Alachua County. The Haitianrs were brought in on H-2A agricultural guestworker visas, promised three years work, and good pay. Upon arrival, their employers confiscated their passports and visas.

The indictment says the workers were “denied necessary medical care” and suffered “chronic hunger, weight loss, illness and fatigue.” If workers complained about the conditions they were threatened with deportation. One of the females reported being raped.

Sadly, this is just one of many disgraces in Florida’s fields. Since 1997, federal officials have produced seven Florida farm worker slavery convictions. Over 1,100 farmworkers have been liberated from slavery in Florida’s fields. A major bust in East Palatka in June, 2005, led to convictions.

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National Farm Worker Ministry
P.O. Box 10645
112 Cox Ave., Suite 208
Raleigh, NC 27605
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919-807-8707 (office)