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The Forerunner

Friends of Latin America

By Editorial Staff
Published November 1, 1989

For the past five years, Rep. Louis (Woody) Jenkins and his wife Diane have been the inspiration and founding partners of Friends of the Americas, a public charity organization providing assistance to children in Latin America suffering from poverty, natural disasters and war.

A major thrust of this organization has been the Christmas Box Project, an intricate system of delivering boxes to needy children in Latin America. Individuals and families work to put together a box for a child of a particular sex or age providing clothing, school supplies, personal hygiene items and toys. The box must also contain a letter and a photo of the person or family preparing the box.

Today in Latin America, thousands of small children are homeless refugees – without food, clothing or medical care. Others are orphans or victims of natural disasters. Many are sick from malaria, parasites, tuberculosis or severe malnutrition. Most of these children have never had a new piece of clothing or a single toy.

The goals of the Christmas Box Project are to provide the American people with a meaningful way to experience “the gift of giving,” and to demonstrate the love of the American people by delivering Christmas gifts to the neediest children in those countries.

Tom McKee, a foreign service officer in Costa Rica, participated in the Christmas Box distribution last year and said, “It’s not often in this business that you get an emotional lift like we got from distributing the Christmas boxes.”

One of the recipients of a Christmas box, Lita, a survivor of the earthquake in Mexico City said, “These little boxes came to us full of love, happiness and kisses to cheer us in this time of suffering. The letters spoke to us from the heart, telling us to be strong, to be tranquil, that Jesus loves us, and that our friends in America love us. It has given us heart. May God bless you. We will never forget you.”

We hope that through participating in this project, you and the child who receives the box may become great friends. If you want instructions for packing a Christmas box, you can obtain this information by writing: Friends of the Americas; 912 Foster Drive; Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806, USA; PHONE: (504) 926-5707

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