Friday, April 1, 2011

Clothed in Love: Amigos Program Sponsors Annual Clothing Drive

Sister Claire Hudert, OSB, pictured with an
Amigos Program family during a recent bazaar.
There is certain excitement in the air when the bazar de ropa arrives to the Mission of Friendship.  It is often comparable to the joyful uncertainty of a Christmas morning: friends, families and communities gather together, questioning as to what could be in all of the varied boxes and bags, wondering what each package might have for them.  When all of the goodies are opened and explored, many are left waiting for the next time such an opportunity may occur, asking, "When will this come again?"

These bazares de ropa, or clothing drives, have become a staple of the Mission of Friendship since its founding in 1971.  While these drives may be connected to the Mission of Friendship as a whole, it is specifically the Amigos Program which ensures that new or gently-used clothing gets in the hands of families associated with the Mission. Established in the late 1980s with the help of Sister Claire Hudert, OSB, the Amigos Progam has striven to link families in the U.S. with Meridian families in need.  Funds from these sponsors especially provide an essential support through which parents may cover the costs of their children's education.

In addition to education, however, the Amigos Program also attempts to assess and help meet the basic needs of each individual family. Fortunately, this is where programs such as bazares de ropa come to the rescue.

Deb and Dan Drayer also visited their sponsored family
after bringing clothes for the bazaar. Pictured is
their visit with the Kantun-Sosa Family.
But how does such an event work?  While planning a clothing drive may seem easy (clothes + table + people = automatic sale, right?), such happenings take quite a bit of work.  As Mexico imports the vast majority of its clothing for retail sale, prices for quality children and adult apparel is considerably above the norm for United States markets. As an alternative, Hudert works to bring clothing from the U.S. to Mérida through sponsorship drives. Hudert searches outlets and department stores for closeout prices on a variety of clothing, eventually to have these pieces sponsored by local churches and religious communities to cover the original expense.  Once the clothing has been fully paid for, she brings it to the families of Mérida free of cost.  Gently-used clothing from various persons in the Erie, PA community also add quality apparel to Hudert's collection.

Some of our Amigos Program family members at
our recent bazaar.
This year, families sponsored by the Amigos Program received up to roughly $10.00 of merchandise per family, with new and gently-used clothing selling for $1.00- $2.00 dollars per item.  Monies that were paid over the $10.00 limit will be allotted to various Mission initiatives.

 Comments from families including "great clothing," and "What a needed event for me and my family," remind and encourage Hudert and all of the Mission of Friendship that such an activity will continue to be a long-standing tradition of service to the communities in the southern Mérida area.

Special thanks this year goes not only to Hudert, but also sponsoring families Deb and Dan Drayer, Chris and Mike Coller and Sister Audrey Berdis and Mildred Riegel, sponsors who were all willing to make this year's clothing drive a reality. Their willingness to prepare and transport such large volumes of clothing assured that this year's bazar would truly be a success.  Thanks also goes to Los Amiguitos Director Silvia Gonzalez Garcia and Amigos Program Coordinator Gladys Vasquez Peña for their hard work in coordinating another flawless Amigos Program event. 

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