CALEXICO — An organization that was initially meant to last for the duration of a single, particularly cold night in 2014, soon celebrates its fifth anniversary, moving from a creature of happenstance to one of Calexico’s most admirable philanthropies.
The Brown Bag Coalition held its posada for needy families on the afternoon of Dec. 21 at the Vo Medical Center. A similar event will be open to all who are in need on Christmas day.
“New Year’s Eve of 2014,”
Coalition President Maribel Padilla explained of the inauguration of her
organization. “That particular day a notice for freezing weather was
broadcasted to the phones of all Imperial Valley residents”
She added, “I originally
meant to set up a shelter for that single grueling night, but through a series
of circumstances it ended up snowballing into an organization that is set to
celebrate its fifth year of operation this New Year’s Eve.”
Among its main efforts is
going out on to the streets and delivering meals to the homeless in Calexico.
Padilla, along with a
number of volunteers, set up the posada room with tables, chairs, gifts, and
even a station for pictures with Santa.
Giving of One’s Self
As daughter to one of the
Coalition board members, Carly Nava has experienced firsthand just how much a
helping hand can do to better the lives of some of Calexico’s residents.
“I’ve been volunteering
for the Coalition since my freshman year of high school,” said Nava, a senior
at Central Union High. “I didn’t ask for anything this Christmas.”
She added, “I know that
I’m blessed, and I already have so much. I decided to donate all the Christmas
gifts and money I’m receiving to the Coalition this year. I know just how much
some people really need, and knowing that I have the privilege to make a
difference for some of these families really pushed me to do this this year.”
A change in location
accompanied this year’s posada.
“The people at Vo’s
Medical Center were gracious enough to offer this space for free for this
year’s posada,” said Padilla. “Since it’s a smaller venue than what we’re used
to, we’re separating this year’s posada into two. One today for the registered
needy families we have, and one for the needy at large on Christmas day.”
The Coalition managed to
secure at least one gift and meal per person for the posada, and also offered drawings
in which extra goodies were awarded to lucky attendants.
In addition, the Imperial
Irrigation District presented two grants to the Brown Bag Coalition during the
setup of the venue. Two representatives from the IID awarded two grants, one
for fifteen thousand and one for five thousand, to the Coalition.
“Our goal is to use these
funds to buy a mobile shower unit, which will greatly expand the services we
can offer the needy of our community,” explained Padilla as she accepted the
A bit of extra
fundraising will be required in order to reach the price goal for the shower
unit, but Padilla said she hopes the unit will be ready for use by the upcoming
The event featured meals
and games with those ages up to 19 receiving a plate featuring pizza and chips.
Those over age 20 received meals which mainly featured tamales and other more
traditional Christmas foods.
The night also featured a
performance by Calexico native Natalia Lozano, fresh off recording her debut
“Doing this work means I
get to know a lot of the more needy citizens in our community,” said Padilla.
“One that stands out to me is a Navy veteran.”
She added, “My son
has been a Marine for two years now, and I always think about how, heaven
forbid, he one day might need the help that we offer today. When I think about
it that way, it makes me confident that I’m paying any help he might need
forward by serving those who need it. It really is a warm feeling.”