Over the past 5 years, YLM has distributed 7,228 toys to children on both sides of the border. Without this program, many of these children would have nothing to unwrap as they celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some of the gifts are distributed right here on the campus, and others are sent with mission staff to be delivered in Juarez, San Lorenzo, Chihuahua City, Sicachique, and even here in El Paso. This past year, as some of the staff members were delivering jackets, blankets, and toys, one young child said with a great big smile on her face that Santa did come this year, after she thought he would not be able to. It took all the self control that our staff had to not break down as they heard and saw her excitement and joy, and they were overjoyed with happiness that they were able to help bring an exciting part of Christmas to this girl.
The gifts that are distributed come from everywhere. Donations from individuals make up the largest percentage, but over the last few years, there have been boxes of new toys donated by students from UTEP, employees of UPS, and Fort Bliss. One friend of the program even takes old dolls and gives them a make over so they look like new.
In conjunction with the toy distribution, YLM partners with Operation Noel to provide jackets to over 15,000 people in the borderland. Operation Noel works with many organizations such as schools, churches, and youth programs in both El Paso and Juarez to ensure that the children of our community have something clean and warm to fight off the winter chills. Since 2006, 3,139 jackets have been given to YLM for its locations on both sides of the border.
Even though everyone is not eligible to receive a jacket, YLM also fights the cold by making quilts and blankets available during our Christmas distributions. Nearly all of the 7,565 blankets given out since 2006 have been brought to us by Orphan Grain Train. These quilts and blankets are brought to the Orphan Grain Train warehouse by quilting clubs all across the United States, boxed up and held until the trucks leave for El Paso, and then they are made available for all of our mission sites both here in El Paso and those in Mexico.