#GivingTuesday is a beautiful global initiative fueled by the power of social media and collaboration, created to encourage everyone to give back to a cause they feel passionate about. We have been part of the movement since 2016, and this year is no exception; on Tuesday, December 3rd, we, too, will celebrate #GivingTuesday. This time, though, it’s with a twist. We’re calling on our followers to visit our online store and buy a shirt to help support farmworker kids.
Farmworker children know what it’s like to struggle. Day in and day out it’s either school, or work, or both. They’re not yet adults, but they sure feel like they are. They work alongside their parents and share much of the family’s responsibilities. Most of their money goes to help pay the bills. If they’re lucky and if they work hard enough, they get to keep some of it as spending money for themselves. But most of that goes towards school supplies and clothes anyway.
We always knew that farmworker kids have amazing talents, an incredible work ethic, and a story that needs to be told – which is why, back in 2007, we dreamed of calling forth those talents and stories in a nationwide art & essay contest, just for them. We had no idea what we were in for. As the contest grew, entries started flooding in – and the stories simply blew us away.
Take 17-year-old Jose, for example. His essay is titled, “How a child and farmwork motivated me.”
Somehow, in the middle of trying to figure out LIFE as a 17-year-old farmworker kid and FATHER, Jose found time to sit down and tell us his story. It was inspiring, and it earned him an Honorable Mention award in last year’s contest.
No less moving was 15-year-old Julieta’s story of personal and family struggle, deep pain, and, finally, hope. You might recognize her art:
When we opened up the envelope that contained Julieta’s incredible drawing, we gasped. It included this description:
This simple picture reflects my life. The father of the girl in this picture is striving and risking his life, all so her little body can reach better opportunities to achieve her dreams. I drew this because my parents came from far away alone, leaving everything and without looking back, and killing themselves in work and all for me. …It’s incredible how big a parent’s love is.
Julieta’s story was heart-wrenching, but we didn’t even understand the half of it until she won the contest and we flew her to AFOP’s National conference in Milwaukee. There, she shared with us the story of her family’s struggle: about her dad getting sick; her mom taking on more work; Julieta herself getting harassed in school, and then feeling guilty that her parents were working so hard to send her to a different school where she wouldn’t get bullied anymore. At one point, she said, she considered ending it all. But the strong ties Julieta felt to her brothers and parents helped her overcome her darkest moments, and now, she told us, she has hope again.
The all-expenses-paid trip to Milwaukee seemed like it was just what Julieta needed. It affirmed her worth as a person. It showed the world that yes, her story mattered, and it had POWER. Getting to know Julieta was such an honor, because we could tell she was on the cusp of accomplishing many more great things. This contest was only the beginning.
Unfortunately, the foundation money that funds this amazing contest is slowly winding down, and many more farmworker children just like Julieta still need this powerful platform from which to share their story.
After Julieta’s art went viral and 1,000 new followers started asking us for t-shirts, we realized this could be a way to make the contest self-sustaining. So, on October 25th, we launched our new online store at afophealthandsafety.bigcartel.com. Our goal for this holiday season is 100 shirts! We are adding new merchandise constantly and are always taking suggestions for more. We cannot emphasize enough that ALL NET PROCEEDS are fed right back into the contest. So, you can holiday shop for some beautiful art by farmworker kids, and support more farmworker kids while you’re at it. It’s a win-win!
Help us ensure that we can continue empowering farmworker children through this amazing contest that does nothing but lift them up and give them hope for the future.
With your contribution, more farmworker children will be able to tell their story. So, don’t spend all your pennies on Black Friday and Cyber Monday: save a few for #GivingTuesday and support our contribution to the farmworker community. No amount is too small!
To shop, please visit our store at afophealthsafety.bigcartel.com.