For this year’s service project, Olivia’s Girl Scout troop decided to collect gently used kids’ sneakers, soccer cleats, and shoes, as well as new school supplies, to donate to Mayan Families, an organization in Guatemala that serves mostly indigenous families in need who live in the Panajachel area around Lake Atitlan. Donating to Mayan Families was Olivia’s idea: in years past, we have carried down our own gently used items to give to Mayan Families, and Olivia has seen first-hand how appreciated the gifts are and how real the need. I’m proud of my daughter for lobbying to help an organization in her birth country, and thrilled and grateful that her fellow Scouts elected to sign on to the cause.
As it happened, Mateo, my sister Patrice and I were headed to Guatemala for a short visit, so we hauled the shoes ourselves. But for anyone else considering donating, check the Mayan Families website for information on which shipping companies to use, or how to join the Mayan Families Connection Yahoo group that sends large containers.
The photo above shows the shoes lined up in our dining room. Below are the suitcases which we carried from San Francisco to Antigua, and transported via shared shuttle bus to Panajachel. Once in Pana, and to Mateo’s delight, we took a tuk-tuk to Mayan Families headquarters; the driver and Mateo posed for a photo before handing over the suitcases to a Mayan Families staffer. Finally, co-director Sharon Smart arranged a photo shoot of the shoes and school supplies, and oversaw the making of the heart-shaped thank you note to Olivia’s Girl Scout leader and troop.
If your group is casting about for a service project, please consider collecting for the children served by Mayan Families. Find a list of desired supplies on the Mayan Families website. Truly, delivering shoes intended for kids who need them stands out as a highlight of our trip.