The First Bocas Give-Back-Christmas

By Anne Watson-Russell

Magical. From the camaraderie of the volunteers over the planning weeks, to the joy of the children playing with new toys, to the happiness of their parents who fetched them along with 20 lbs. of food sorted into re-usable shopping bags (donated by Supermarket Isla Colon) at the end of Saturday’s BIG party, it was ALL totally enchanting.

One of the 60 kids who showed up at the Municipio Building at 10 a.m., invitation in hand, was a little girl who, unlike the others, didn’t eat the free sandwiches from Hostel Heiki, nor the popcorn, nor open her juice boxes, nor put down the wrapped gift which she hugged tightly to her body. Instead, every treasured thing went unopened into her pinata-filled candy bag. You should have seen her smile as she stepped over little ones playing with toy trucks, when her mom came to the door.

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All invited children were selected by teachers at Nicaragua public school, in case their Christmas might be meager. In party clothes they played games, ate goodies, and said “Gracias” to the guy now known as “the WORST fake Santa in the world” (barely a tummy, brown beard, sunglasses — Santa-in-training for next year, because it will happen again). But he got little Juan Carlo (5) to bailar (dance) for his gift.

Aixa Baker, 13, and Gladis Chito, 12 were the first to arrive and, with other oldest girls, participated in the best game: “find your shoes” from inside a bag of collected footwear. Imagine the joy of Orisleida, 12, who won the brand new pink bicycle.

Everyone was a winner — from the kids, to the families who now have oil, flour, beans, sugar, rice, etc. in their cupboards, to the 12 volunteers recruited by the “Event Organizer Supreme”, Kelly Berube de De Caro, who overlooked no small detail — Bocas Town has a new tradition for Christmas.

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Abrazos y besos to all who donated about $2700 in cash or goods; too many to mention, but so appreciated. Bags of food not picked up today will be given to identified families in Boca del Drago region.

Finally, to the park lady asking for freebies as she watched but did not help volunteers carry heavy boxes of food, next year why don’t you join us, the ones who already have food, in the joy of giving? A Navidad to remember.

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Volunteers:

Kelly Berube de De Caro

Alba Taguado Piterson

Solinge Rodriguez

Yorlenis Deprintemps

Ingri Rodal

Victoria de Porras

Rachel Couzans

Joan Bergmans

Penny Tom

Miriam Humphries

Maifi Fernandez

Anne Watson Russel

Lissette Parda

Sarah Freiburghaus

Leslie Alan

Donors:

Mark Johnson

Susan Guberman

Weston Dean

Jennifer & Duffy Goodman

Gobi Kim

Teresa Loberg

Helene & Reinier

Monique Born

Anonimo

Cindy

Bianca Ferrari

Janis Buchanen

Adrienne & Brian

Tranquilo Bay

Daniel & Christine Anaya

Dawna Knapp

Hosteluego

Diane Cressy

Manou Ray

Habla Ya

Woodstock

Katherine Dukehart

Penny Tom

Ed & Alice

James Beal

Liz Philips

Karen Angeli

Mike

Maifi & Juan

Tessa & Shane Dagenais

Janna & John White

Pam & Wally Steinhoff

Hostel Heiki

Ashley Foster Dean

Isla Colon

Christy Linville & Family

Marjon & Bob

Ashley

Tony’s Market

Hostel Heiki

Santamaria Family

La Buga

Ingri & Fabio

Linda & Dave Cerutti

Carlos Raul

Buzz & Becky Berube

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Printed monthly in both English and Spanish with a circulation of 5,000 free copies distributed at airports, hotels, restaurants and various retail locations throughout Bocas del Toro, Panama City, David, Boquete and Costa Rica. Also published on the Internet on a daily basis.

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