The Season of Sharing raised 414,000 pesos that will be divided among several local beneficiaries, said Kimmy Suki, founder of Yucatán Giving Outreach A.C.
In addition, the series of high-impact fundraisers collected 623 toys for children, and realized in-kind donations valued at 137,000 pesos.
Kimmy, whose known professionally as Kimberly Davin DeGraff, has been providing outreach to people in need for years, and more recently formalized her efforts by creating a civil association.
She came to Mérida from the San Joaquin Valley in central California 14 years ago, intending to work one year in a chiropractic clinic. (Read our 2015 interview here.)
The Season of Sharing kicked off in November with a gallop. An all-female polo tournament, called Chicas for Charity, was a huge weekend event at the Yucatán Polo Club. Three teams were formed with 40 horses and athletes from Germany, California, Florida, Mexico City, Switzerland and Yucatán came to compete. A silent auction contained numerous luxury items and fancy-hat contest lent an air of levity to the weekend.
That was followed two weeks later by the Sandcastles Holiday Party “Black & White Casino Night,” and Patty’s Chicas & Cocktails for Charity a few days after that.
The finale was a big party and toy drive, “Toys for Joy,” at Ochenta y Dos, whose co-owner Dave Omer Dodge is on the SOS board of directors and proved valuable as an experienced event planner.
The final celebration also honored many volunteers and sponsors, such as EcoCentro, Yucatán Expat Life, Property Management23, Merida Living Real Estate, Hennessy’s Irish Pub, Napoli Mia Restaurante, Ochenta y Dos, Manuel Diamante, Robert Abuda Salon de Belleza Merida, SOHO Galleries, Bears En La Playa, and presenting sponsor The Flossie-May & Gert Family Fund.
Additional volunteers who chaired an event during The Season of Sharing were also named: Gwen Straka, Brian Moran, Dave Omer Dodge, Patrick Greenwood, Patti Rogers, Fabienne O’Neill, Christine E Chu and Melissa Adler.
Proceeds will benefit the Children’s Symphony for high-risk children; Evolucíon Animal, Artscool at Caimede, Renacer Oxcum, Caimede, Crias Amor, Vida Sucil and Arca de Noe.
All these events raised awareness and much-needed funds for the work of Yucatan Giving Outreach in the Greater Mérida area.
About the charities
Here are some organizations that depend on public support, and a list of what they need:
La Divina Providencia: A refuge for 92 elderly residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s and missing limbs. A majority of these elderly were left at the shelter with no place to go. Daily food costs are 1,800 pesos a day to feed them. They take all types of household donations for a bazaar they hold weekly to raise money for food and medicine. Donations first fill the need for the residents and secondly for the bazaar. Donations are received daily from 9-5 p.m. The gate is always shut but if you reach your hand in and open it the offices are to the right hand side. Donations needed: Used or new household goods, clothes, shoes, appliances working, towels, bedding. Additional items: Adult diapers, lotion, bars of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, underarm deodorant, cleaning supplies, medicine (opened is OK). Food: Oil, sugar, oatmeal, cereal, vegetables, fruit, meat, canned goods, broth, bread, tortillas, coffee, cookies, hotdogs, eggs, salsa, pastas, tomato sauce. Volunteer opportunities: assist in kitchen, repairs to facilities, provide classes of art or exercise. Contact: Director: Sister Alicia, 999-943-3751, Calle 26 # 552 x 11a y 13 Col Maya. Wire donations to Scotiabank, Clabe 044910170023062205.
Artscool art program at Caimede Orphanage-YGO program: This program was started to bring art instruction to the residents of Caimede. This program not only provides art but gives the children attention and love to express themselves and give them a source of pride. The program attends to children of both sexes and includes a special program for adults with specials needs. Recently, music has been introduced to the blind children as a form of expressing themselves. Donations needed: poster boards, creative papers, pens, highlighters, scissors, good quality paint brushes; cash donations also highly recommended to purchase specific objects needed for the projects.Volunteer opportunities available with rotating schedule. Administrator: Kimmy Suki; Director: Cy Bor; Director of special artist program: Donna Spadafora; Telephone: 999-133-4991.
Caimede DIF: A state-funded facility that houses between 200-300 children. Ages range from newborn to adults with severe disabilities. The largest population consists of teens between the ages of 14-16. They receive donations between 9-3 Monday through Friday. All donated items are given at the front gate to the police officer. There is a guard and a log book to document your donations; 999-985-0119; Calle 67 Col. Mulsay Mérida. Donations needed: Shoes and clothes of all sizes, high chairs, blankets, pillows, brand-new socks, brand-new underwear, new brushes, underarm deodorant, DVD players, movies, batteries, toys, plastic dishes, soccer balls, strollers. There is only one little lady who registers and goes through all the donations, so please don’t send damaged and torn items. Send items only in mint condition.
AC Renacer Mayab AC aka The Kids’ Soup Kitchen: This is an impressive one-woman show. The director, Laura, feeds and tutors 30-50 impoverished children. At the moment she can only afford to feed them three to four times a week. For many children this is the only meal they get in a day. She also has a tutor program that helps them study. She has seen a huge increase in her little charges’ grades. Donations needed: Oil, sugar, cookies, meat, consomme, cleaning products, fruits, vegetables, cash donations for propane, rice, beans, cheese, pasta. Volunteer opportunities: assist in homework, cook, clean, help serve meals, offer extra classes, play sports or activities with children. Director: Laura Lopez, 999-173-0835; wire donations to Banamex 44130141142; clabe 002910441301411427.
Crias IAP home for teenage boys: A home is a home for troubled and runaway boys. They are located on a large ranch where they are taught to raise goats and chickens. The home usually has between 6-15 boys at any given time. It is ran by a husband-and-wife team who are lovely people and honestly care about these boys. Director: Luis Escalante, 999-943-7842; Periferico by Alta Brisa. Donation needs: Canned goods, vegetables, cheese, cereal, tortilla, bread, cleaning supplies, granola bars, pastas, meat, oatmeal, consommé, rice, beans, oil, cookies, cleaning supplies, underarm deodorant, shampoo, body soap, new and used mens size clothes and shoes, blankets, pillows. Wire donations to Banamex account number: 4766840171991792.
Arca de Noe Associación I.A.P.: Arca de Noe consists of three drug rehab centers, one each for recovering men, women and teenagers. All members live on site. The director, David Alvarez, is so passionate about recovery he has spent his whole inheritance maintaining these homes. He has a strict policy that no residents are allowed to beg for money. The path to recovery is attending meetings and doing honest work, under his philosophy. Donations needed: Used or new household goods, clothes for men or women, shoes, appliances working, towels, bedding, coffee machines, toasters. Additional items: lotion, bars of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, underarm deodorant, cleaning supplies (bleach, Fabulosa, laundry detergent), tooth brushes. Food donations: Oil, sugar, oatmeal, cereal, vegetables, fruit, meat, canned goods, broth, bread, tortillas, coffee, lunch meat, cheese, hot dogs, eggs, salsa, pastas, tomato sauce, coffee and more coffee. Director: David Alvarez, 999-164-5238; Calle 38 No. 520a between 69 and 71 Centro.
Noe Casa de Abuelos Merida and Ixim: The Mérida home has 24 elderly and the Ixim home has 29 elderly who have nowhere else to go. The director and her son, who is a nurse, have dedicated heart and soul to caring for the elderly in these two shelters. Directors: Estela Solis Suaste and Noe Cortes Solis, 999-350-1143Calle 79C No. 647 between 104 and 106, Col Sambula, by the airport. Donations needed: Used or new household goods, clothes, shoes, appliances working, towels, bedding. Additional items: Adult diapers, lotion, bars of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, underarm deodorant, cleaning supplies, medicine (opened is OK). Food donations: Oil, sugar, oatmeal, cereal, vegetables, fruit, meat, canned goods, broth, bread, tortillas, coffee, cookies, hotdogs, eggs, salsa, pastas, tomato sauce. Volunteer opportunities: assist in kitchen, repairs to facilities, provide classes of art or exercise, any medically trained or physical therapy help. Wire donations to Casa de Descanso de Abuelos A.C.’s Banorte bank account 0861288517.
Children’s Soup Kitchen of Oxcum: This started with one woman, Pastor Genny Osorio Puerto, and her young child. They had been asked if a friend could come eat for lunch because he hadn’t eaten for a few days. How could a mother turn that away? This lovely person with a big heart is known to feed 30 to 60 children a day, five to seven days a week. These are children whose only meal of the day is often provided by this woman. She also assists in homework ad offers daily Bible study. Donations needed: Oil, cookies, meat, consommé, cleaning products, fruits, vegetables, cash donations to fill the cooking gas tanks, rice, beans, cheese, tortillas, bread, plastic plates, cups, silverware, pots and pans, hand towels, napkins, cleaning supplies, rice, beans, pasta, cookies. Director: Pastor Genny Osorio Puerto, 999-993-0365.
Psychiatric ward known locally as the SSA: State-ran facility with limited budget. They are often forced to take cases with no assistance financially from family yet little government funding. Donations needed: blankets, pillows, sheets, plus size clothes, adult clothes and shoes. Donations can be dropped off with a social service agent or guard at Calle 59, next to the park Hundido de Poniente, Francisco 1 de Madero; 999-945-1542.
Evolución Animal A.C.: This no-kill shelter rescues, heals and finds forever homes for abused and abandoned dogs, which number in the hundreds, and over 40 cats. Evolución receives no government funding and raises funds from individual donors, appeals and fundraisers. Most of the money donated goes to feeding the animals. Then there are ongoing bills for veterinary care, medications, vaccinations, de-wormers and spaying/neutering. For the past 18 years, Evolución has promoted spaying and neutering, taught responsible pet ownership and respect and compassion towards all living things. Evolución has also helped create animal protection laws for the Yucatan. They need dog and cat food, flea and tick control (Amatraz/Bovitraz, Frontline, Advantix, flea/tick collars), dog carriers, cat litter, detergent, bleach, disinfectant, trash bags, towels, sheets, brooms, mops, etc. A volunteer will collect cash and/or in kind donations. Contact Silvia Cortez at Carretera Umán-Tanil SN, Fracc. San Lorenzo, firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are collected at evolucionanimal.org or by wiring funds to Banco Santander, account 65505603125, Clabe 014910655056031253.
Ayelem AC: This center men with Down syndrome houses 31 residents between the ages of 16 to 64. This center teaches them sports, social interaction, art, work skills and culture activities. They have a few medal winners in their efforts at the Special Olympics competition. They are trying to build an improved facility to serve these men. Donations needed: Material for construction 50,000 blocks, 20,000 bovedillas, 300 bags of cement, 200 bags of cal, two truck loads of gravel and polvo, cash donations for labor. Director: Nelly Canton Mèndez, Calle 59 No. 622a between 78 and 80, Col. Centro; 999-256-3738. Wire donations to Banorte account 0640247568.