The volunteers of Carry the Future want to say thank you for everything that you have supplied for families at the southern US border. You have gone above and beyond proving that every person can do something to make a difference. Despite the amazing outpouring of giving, supplies are still needed. Read on for a description of most needed items from one of our volunteers who recently spent time helping those who had just been released from the detention centers in Texas.
“109 degrees—’feels like’ 123. It’s 3:33 p.m. in McAllen, Texas and members of Carry the Future Team 57 are pulling out of a local box store, their third visit, so far, on this day. Their rented mid-sized SUV is filled with boxes of diapers, bags overflowing with clothing, hair ties, socks; and large cans of formula. It is hard to see out the back window and something is rattling. Some of the plastic baby bottles must have fallen out.
“Google maps warns that traffic is approaching and the digital map displays a small strip of red, signaling congestion. Three cars are stopped. The teammates chuckle about what traffic means in this small, friendly, intimate town with charming drive-through tamale joints and palm tree-lined streets.
“They turn into the parking area at the Humanitarian Respite Center (HRC) and the mood tenses in the car, as a sparkling white bus marked Homeland Security is turning in simultaneously. The volunteers walk quickly past the officer who has deboarded the bus, clad in army green, thumbs in his pockets and slip into the heat, the sea of people and heaviness in the Center.
“We will close up while the new group is welcomed,” the team Leader says as the volunteers shuffle quickly into the infant room, past the makeshift ‘front desk’ they constructed out of broken shelving, stacked diaper boxes and cheap, clear packing tape. You improvise. You use your imagination.
“I got you that salad you like,” one says. They smile and the other member hands her the red bin with hairbands. It was her idea. She bought them days earlier. The women are arriving from ICE detention with their hair lifted from their necks by torn mylar blankets. Curls, strands, and locks of hair are matted to the soft foreheads of the children they hold. “I will sort the diaper sizes, you two go,” she says.
“The Team Lead grabs foil stickers from under the makeshift desk and he and another head for the door, shutting it behind. One will prepare for the upcoming rush, two will greet. It was the Team’s ritual: as the families file into the Respite Center’s hallway to receive their welcome, their instructions of what to expect for the next day or two, they go to the front of the line. They do it silently. We didn’t ask, we just did. The leaders approve. They seem to understand.
“Every person who has hair that when loose drapes across their neck is offered a hairband. Sometimes a person looks at the volunteer with a quizzical expression. ‘Hace calor,’ she says, and gestures toward her hair. They smile. They nod. She points to the mylar hair tie. ‘No Bueno, no Bueno.’ They nod. Fathers ask for hair ties for their daughters, for their wives. Women gesture, would two be okay?
“The Team Leader follows behind, bending down to offer children a sticker. He lets them pick. Once a child selects the color they want, he lifts it from the backing and touches it to their hand. He touches them. He presses it on and says, ‘You are a star.’ A leader at the respite center continues her introductions. Some lean in to hear better over the large fans.
“Finished, and back in the infant room, the team gathers and hurries to restock their inventory. In a few moments the welcome orientation of sorts will be complete and the families will be lining up for new diapers, baby wipes, formula, clean bottles and sippy cups, clothes and socks. One member is scrawling sizes of clothing onto resealable bags and tossing to the other. ‘2T nina,’ she says. The diapers are ready. But the clothes–each child will need a clean outfit. It helps to be ready with sizes.
“‘I think that human touch makes all the difference,’ the Leader says. His eyes are sparkling. ‘The stickers. When you press your finger into the hands of the children I think that matters.’
“Applause is heard outside the door. The families were just asked to give themselves a round of applause. The hard part is over. You are welcome here. You are free. ‘It does. It matter,’ we validate. ‘It matters.’”
At Carry the Future we aim to provide direct relief and service to those we serve. Click here to provide critical items to families in need.