San Pedro Christmas Collection Delivers 2200 Toys AND 2200 Meals to the Kids of Our Island
A few years back…the first year of the pandemic, Ivan and his buddy Stan had an amazing idea – raise money and buy kids toys for Christmas. Things were tough for so many…the island had been under strict restrictions for seven months, and tourism…well…the industry that fuels our economy was at a standstill.
They got it done.
And since then, they’ve grown the initiative. Exponentially. The event that started to help a smaller group has turned into an absolutely incredible and epic event. Series of events. That culminated in delivering 2200 meals and 2200 gifts to every single school kid in San Pedro (under high school age).
Belize is a very young, lots and lots of kids country…
% of the population aged 0-14 in Belize: 36% vs. % of the population aged 0-14 in USA: 14%
From a fundraising event where people got in the booth and donated gift certificates from businesses around town rained down on the contestant.
I was lucky to tag along for this final delivery.
Basically, I learned the true meaning of Christmas: flounce in for the very last day of a huge many-month effort by scores of volunteers to do the most fun part. Give out the gifts. (I’m kidding…I found the real meaning at that end of this post)
You might be wondering…how much money does it take to buy 2200 gifts…in Belize? How does one go about preparing 2200 meals to deliver? ALOT!
Ivan did not do it alone. He runs Croc’s Sunset Bar about 1 mile north of the bridge in San Pedro – a very popular spot for sports, food, live music, and amazing views.
He’s got a full-time job…more than a full-time job! He had a team of help running the fundraisers and then heading to Chetumal, Mexico to buy all of the gifts…get them across the border…divvy them all up by age/grade, boy/girl, schools and classrooms.
And then there was cooking rice, beans, stew chicken and potato salad for 2200.
Let me just show you how I spent the morning yesterday…
Arriving at 8am at Croc’s…the crew was already at work (and many in the kitchen had been up for hours…)
Hordes of volunteers were already working…and more kept arriving…
Plating food in paper containers with wooden forks! (The kids were enamored and surprised by the fun, eco-friendly cutlery)
400lbs of potatoes were being turned into potato salad. I’ve never seen coolers so HUGE.
This is about 1/8 of the total. Mmmm…potato salad makes everything taste delicious.
Upstairs toys and gifts were bagged and tagged for each classroom on the island.
Food just kept coming…
As did the volunteers…everyone was told to bring a spoon.
Meals were counted and boxed and labelled for each classroom on the island.
Dogs in costume knew to stand aside.
And then it was time to load things up. San Pedro Hardware brought in the flatbed truck for the delivery south of town.
One of the toy mobiles.
And our caravan headed out – first delivery at the lovely New Horizen School in the DFC area south of town. It is the second largest primary school on the island with over 500 kids. 500! 2 classrooms per grade – Infant 1 (kindergarten) to Standard 6. Each classroom has an average of 30-35 kids.
Each classroom has a fish/sea related name. We delivered to the Nurse Sharks and the Black Groupers and the Tarpon…
Phew! Standard 5 is about 6th Grade in the US…maybe 7.
And then the fun part – and the crazy impressive part. These kids were sooo excited and yet so well mannered. I know…it sounds impossible but it was true!
Hooray! The kids were happy and the volunteers? Tired but maybe even happier than the kids.
GIVING! Now that is the reason for the season.
Thank you Ivan and Rachel and Kerry and the whole crew…this blew my mind. It’s amazing what people can do…instead of coming up with the 101 reasons it will never work…they were bigger and bolder and raised 10s of thousands of dollars to make every kids holiday just a little more special.
And to the little girl that slipped this tiny thank you note into my hand in one classroom…you made my Christmas. Thank you.
THANK YOU Ivan and crew for letting me participate.