Caravan of love from Humboldt to Tijuana

Local art teacher organizes monthly trips to shelters in Tijuana for migrant children

In a time where life feels cold, local Arcata art teacher Maureen McGarry has traveled over eight hundred miles to warm the hearts of families waiting at border shelters in Tijuana, Mexico.

McGarry, a Humboldt State alumna, combines her love for art and passion for community into the Piñata Project. She partnered with Equity Arcata in a candy drive and collected donations, so that on her trip she could bring supplies for the children and have them make their own piñatas.

“They have no country, no school, they are in an age where you make important memories. I just want to make positive memories they can take into the future,” McGarry said.

Piñatas that have already been made. Photo by Jose Herrera.

She collected the donations in the lobby of Arcata City Hall and from the homes of community members. After her car was filled with candy, colorful construction paper and craft materials, the supplies made their way down the coast and used to create a space where children and adults could have a moment of peace through art.

McGarry also brings blankets, socks and menstrual pads for those in need of extra resources.

Detention centers in the United States ban the public from access to facilities, so McGarry started searching for other ways to get involved in support of undocumented immigrants.

That is when she found Border Angels, a nonprofit organization based partly in San Diego and Tijuana that specializes in water drops for migrants who are traveling through the desert. They also help support 16 of the 33 shelters in Tijuana through “Caravans of Love” which is a distribution
route that delivers donations of supplies like non-perishable food, various types of toiletries, clothing and much more.

They have no country, no school, they are in an age where you make important memories. I just want to make positive memories they can take into the future.

Maureen McGarry

Hugo Castro, who is a board member of Border Angels, describes Maureen as “el espiritu Americano,” an example of the “American Spirit.”

On her very first trip, her truck broke down during distribution, it already had three-hundred thousand miles on it and in July, Tijuana was the last destination. He distinctly remembered how she remained graceful and positive, only worried about the donations. Thankfully they made it to the shelters.

A group of people gather along the border wall leading into the ocean. Photo courtesy of Maureen McGarry.

“Today her truck is the official vehicle for distribution for Border Angels in Tijuana,” Castro said.

In Arcata, McGarry hopes to expand her efforts. She tries to create fundraisers every month but believes that through a partnership with students, bigger Caravans of love can sprout from Humboldt County.

“They are our neighbors and we must help,” McGarry said.

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