On Saturday, December 14th, three YAYA members arrived early in the morning at St. Clements Chruch in Plant City, to help distribute toys and other goods to farm worker families in the local area. We began the day by first meeting the volunteers and the coordinator, Maria, who showed us what to do and what to first work on. We cleared the room and began arranging tables. Once the Toys for Tots truck pulled into the church parking lot, all the volunteers began unloading the truck with toys. There was several different jobs at hand: Unloading the truck, putting toys in order by numbers, arranging the extra toys by age, and escorting farm workers throughout the distribution to make sure folks could get what they needed to receive.
After we finished unloading the truck and arranging the bags of toys by numerical order, we began organizing teams to distribute toys, and to escort farm worker folks. Bilingual volunteers were used to first greet farm worker families and to make sure they had all their information in order. Benji, and myself welcomed farm workers as they gathered outside the church and entered the venue. We first past the first row of tables to distribute batteries and toiletries. Then we asked if the family needed diapers and what size. We then followed the next row of blankets. As we passed the row of blankets, numbers were being called out in order for the families to gather the toys quickly and efficiently. Then we passed the last row before the toys were distributed, and gathered food stuffs like red beans, red chili peppers and bags of rice. After we gathered the toys, we escorted folks to their vehicles and dropped off the toys and invited them to return and take a look at the used clothes section.
Some of my fondest memories were of talking to farm worker families and chatting about where they were from or how they were. It seemed like many families enjoyed the kind gesture. What did surprise me was how young many of these families parents were. Many of the folks that came by looked 18-21 years old. And they had several children. It really brought home how young these folks are and how important events like this toy drive are to help these families enjoy a holiday season.
As being a new comer to YAYA, I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering and escorting farm worker folks inside and to their vehicles at this toy distribution. I would like to thank Maria, for organizing and working so closely to better the lives of farm worker families, and bringing a holiday joy to people who truly deserve it and more. I’d like to also thank St.Clements for supporting the NFWM, and allowing YAYA to volunteer at the event. I’d also like to thank Toys for Tots and their campaign to help bring toys to the neediest and to farm worker families. I kept hearing from families that entered, that they registered through El Campo, or the farm. This makes me very happy because it says that although folks didn’t sign up through school, Toys for Tots is effective in reaching folks at their place of work or residence.
This event is important to our YAYA chapter because it allows members to meet farm worker folks, and to interact with them in a very cheerful and generous manner. It allows us to bring smiles to children who truly deserve the most out of the holidays, and if a little bit of sweat and beating our backs is needed to bring that holiday cheer, then YAYA is more than willing to do it. I truly am grateful for the opportunity to help make the holidays that much warmer for farm worker folks.