GROW, with the help of New Seasons markets in Portland, Oregon brought holiday cheer to a group of elementary students in Colima, Mexico in December. As a part of the program between GROW and Project Amigo, they helped to host the Christmas Posada, a traditional Mexican Christmas party, to offer a day of fun and gifts for children who otherwise may not have received holiday presents.
The annual posada, which is one of the many week-long volunteer experiences offered through the GROW program, provides an opportunity for retailers who support GROW to gain a first-hand view of the impact their purchases have on the community.
The event provides an opportunity for volunteers to spend time getting to know the children of the banana growing region, and this year a group of employees from New Seasons Markets travelled to Colima to spend a week preparing for the posada, wrapping gifts and making piñatas, and then helping the children select new jeans, shirts and shoes in their size. Each child also received a toy as part of their Christmas gift.
Fiesta Week, which is how this celebration has become known, culminated with a party for all the children. They arrived by bus dressed in their new clothes with wonderment in their eyes. New Seasons’ own Jeff Salchenberg played Santa, and each child got an opportunity to enjoy their first visit from jolly St. Nick.
The Posada’s afternoon of fun included a sit-down pozole lunch for all, served by the volunteers. Lunch was followed with entertainment, music, games, dancing and pinatas. A very tired but happy group of children got on the bus to return home, enriched by the experience of the fiesta the volunteers had lovingly organized for them.
GROW and Project Amigo have made the Christmas posada an annual event, and every year a new group of children can experience this magic. These children come from difficult backgrounds but show promise for future success. They will have the opportunity to start as a GROW scholarship recipient the following year, each continuing their education into junior high, high school, and through university.
The funding for all GROW programs comes from the sale of organic bananas with the GROW by Organics Unlimited label. For the volunteers who make the trip to Colima to experience this or other weeks at Project Amigo, it is a life changing experience. For the children who are introduced to the possibilities the world holds for them through the Christmas Posada and other GROW programs, it is a new beginning.
GROW has promoted sustainability, education and health care year-round to underserved communities in banana growing regions of Mexico and Ecuador since 2005. Thanks to retailer and distributor support, GROW organic banana purchases have provided over $2 million in aid. These funds are used for youth educational programs, health clinics and dental and vision care; clean water, early childhood education, micro-business programs, disaster relief and environmental initiatives.