The 2015 Christmas Parties 

Monday, Dec. 14, 2015
Buying More Than 700 Toys

     Every year, on the eve of the first party, volunteers gather at the Pitillal Soriana’s store.  This huge store continues to give us 20% off on our toy purchases which really helped us this year with over 700 children to buy toys for. Over the next three days, five separate parties are held which is a terrific drain on the volunteers but each year, they continue to persevere.  Without the free efforts of so many people, the children of Volcanes would not have toys for Christmas.

The line of carts filled with toys at one point blocked the aisles.

The Volunteers and Staff of Soriana’s help make this Toy Campaign Work.

Getting the Volunteers to Colonia Volcanes

     The volunteers all travelled by city buses which take over an hour to reach the distant school.  These hot, dusty and rattling pieces of welded and re-welded sheet metal are the only way most residents of Volcanes have of reaching work, grocery shopping or getting out of the village. 

Just one of the typical buses we volunteers rode to and from the parties.

     For us volunteers, it meant catching a Demonio Blanco bus two hours before the party to get there on time and getting things ready.  Then about 3 hours of working under a hot sun during the party making certain the presents are ready, the food is served and trying to calm the rising excitement of the children.  Then another hour or so back home on the very same buses.  Each volunteer worked at least 5 to 6 hours in conditions that test each of them yet they continue to come back year after year.  We owe a lot to our volunteers.

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 – Party 1 of 5
Christmas Party for Morning Students of
Volcanes Primary School

     What can I tell you about almost 300 children waiting to pick a toy for Christmas?  The volunteers headed out at 8 am by bus and would only get back near 2 in the afternoon.  The party was from 10 until 12:30 and was bedlam and joy sprinkled with a great deal of chaos.  Look at the pictures to see what fun they and we volunteers had.

Trying to stay cool and out of the blazing sun is important. 

Each School Party has two huge Tres Leches Cake.  
A Mexican delicacy that is luscious with milk, cream and more cream.

The Volunteers set up the toys for the Children to see. 

A big surprise was “Hard Rock Hotel” arriving with candies, a clown on stilts, 
and a promise to continue with weekly food donations already topping 41,000 lbs of fruit and food.

The children wanted to thank the 
People of Kamloops for their Support.

Thank you so much Kamloops

Thanks also go out to Gerry and “Fresh is Best” from Kamloops

Thank You Gerry and “Fresh is Best” in Kamloops, BC

The kids also wanted to thank Peter and Jackie at Peter’s Pasta in Kamloops, BC

Thank so much to Peter and Jackie at Peter’s Pasta in Kamloops, BC 

The volunteers helped hand out the Hot Dogs, Chips, and Juices.

Of course, what is a party without cake? 

A lot of happy children wanting to thank everyone who made it happen.

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015 – Party 2 of 5
Christmas Party for Afternoon Students of Volcanes Primary School 

     The next day another 300 children were waiting at the school for their party to begin?  The volunteers left the bus stop at 1 pm for the 3 pm party and only got back home near 6 pm.  But the pictures show every child having a great time as did we volunteers.

Each of the 6 Grades Attending The Afternoon School at Volcanes Put on a Show.

We Watched Traditional Dancing to Elves, Santa and other Christmas Characters.

We even watch a small Passion Play

Again Peter’s Campaign Raised Enough to Pay for the Food at the 5 Parties. 
Thank you Again Peter.

Always hungry, each child received a Hot Dog, Juice, and Cake paid by Peter’s Campaign.

But with so much going on inside, mothers and family watch their children have a good time.
At the end of the party, what food is left is always shared with these families.

Then it’s time to let them select their own Christmas Toy. 
Picked by Random Color Choice, each child loves this moment. 
The Boys and Girls take time, and we let them enjoy it.

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 – Party 3 of 5
9 AM Christmas Party for Students of Volcanes Kindergarten 

     The next day another 3 smaller parties were scheduled on what will be the last day of school.  The first of these parties was for the Volcanes Kindergarten which has about 120 tots.

These small children can’t wait for the fun to begin.
As in previous years, Paulette and I are working the two Kinder Parties.
Each Child loves their new toy and one of Tom’s Lollipops.
The Children have fun with Face Painting. 

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 – Party 4 of 5
11 AM
Christmas Party for Students of San Nicholas Kindergarten 

     Soon after the first Kinder Party is over, another smaller party needs to begin for the 40 children at the San Nicholas Kindergarten. This little Kinder has always been my favorite and they show their appreciation every year.  I can't wait until the party is over to give each little boy and girl a Paletta di Navidad (Christmas Lollipop).

     Months before I arrived in PV, Lee and Pauline from New Brunswick Canada donated C$ 500 to help with these Christmas Parties.  I did the math and wanted to show exactly how far and how much joy each dollar raised brings.  I spoke to the directora (the principal) of the San Nicholas Kinder and explained what I was planning to do.  The entire cost the hot dogs, chips, juice boxes, Christmas Stockings filled with candies, and all of the toys food given at the San Nicholas party would be paid for by that one single $ 500 contribution.  All of it (except my yearly lollipops given at each party to each child) came from their donation.  At about C$ 12 per child, it shows how much can be done with so little money.  Others who donated can estimate how many children their own contributions helped. 

 Thank you again Lee and Pauline for your generosity.

A Hot Dog, A Bag of Chips, Juice and Cake. 

Then came the toys.  The Boys and Girls were so HAPPY!

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 – Party 5 of 5
4 PM Christmas Party for Secondary Students from Colonia Volcanes 

     Volcanes is such a small place; it does not have a secondary school.  Once students graduate from Grade 6 at the Volcanes Primary School, they need to travel elsewhere in the city to continue to go to school.  Those with good grades can apply for a BECAS scholarship to help their families cover tuition, book, school material, school uniforms and daily travel cost on the buses.  In many cases, receiving one of these BECAS’ is the only way of continuing to go to school.

     Needless to say, after the four days it takes to put on these parties, the volunteers are tired and exhausted.  But each is left with a feeling of having contributed to something greater which these children will remember for the rest of their lives.  Thanks to so many of you who made it all possible. 

In Memorium

A special donation was made to this year's Christmas Party Fundraising.

"From David Spang and Little Bits
in Memory of Toby Spang"

One Last Image of Christmas 2015 for the Children of Volcanes

     Now it's the first week of January and the streets are emptying as most go home after the holidays and we can enjoy a little quiet time before the crowds start coming again at the end of January.

     I think back at all the work it takes every year to pull off the Christmas Parties and the help I get from so many donors as well as the volunteers who help us put on the parties.  So much fun but so much work.  From buying the toys on the Monday, to putting on a party on Tuesday Morning for the morning students of the school then to do the whole thing over again the next day in the afternoon for another 270 children who attend the school in the afternoon.  The next day on Thursday  we had three smaller parties to set up and our energies were getting down. 

     By then I was exhausted.  Yet on that Thursday morning; it was time to do the two Kinder parties.  We had had a lot of fun doing the larger Volcanes Kinder with 118 children at 9am and my Cousin Paulette and I were walking to get to the much smaller San Nicholas Kinder with 38 boys and girls for their party at 11am.  Of course, regular school was now out for Christmas holidays and the poverty in Volcanes was clear to see around us as we walked through Colonia Volcanes.

     Yet in the distance a young boy met us on the dusty mud packed street with a new Soccer ball.  He was so happy, joy-filled and couldn't wait to meet his friends to play a game of soccer.  To him it meant hours and hours of fun, cameraderie and sport with his best friends.  After all, if you have a soccer ball, you are suddenly very popular all your friends want to play with you.  In the years I've been doing this I've observed that in Mexico boys and girls most often select a toy which can be shared with their friends while back at home children pick toys they don't have to share.  Perhaps poverty promotes a need to share while abundance appears to do the opposite.

    The young lad recognized me (not hard as I'm fat and wear a silly Christmas hat) and thanked us both with a big smile for his Christmas present.  I couldn't take that credit.  I tried to explain in my broken Spanish.

      A great many people donated money and one of those people's $ 10 paid for that Soccer Ball.  To those who like you who gave money to help out, this is a simple example of what joy your donations gave to the children of Volcanes.

On dirt dusty mud-packed streets, amid the poverty around him in Colonia Volcanes
this young boy was so proud and happy at his choice of Christmas Toy.

Thank you all for helping out again this year.

Much love to you all.

Tom In PV