For ten years, our Holiday Hands program made the holidays brighter for more than 6,800 families. We are so proud of that legacy. This year, during these extraordinary times, we are carrying that same light from Holiday Hands into a new initiative: supporting essential workers and their families via trusted partners. For twenty excruciating months, essential workers have embodied what it means to show up. To honor their resilience, we are showing up for them: for critical food workers, frontline nurses and doctors, and teachers and school staff. While this year’s focus is new, it is deeply rooted in the same principle that started it all: We Belong To Each Other.
For our first grant, we are supporting migrant farm workers. Millions of pounds of fresh produce—most fruits and vegetables—remain on store shelves because of them. On top of lacking of PPE and crowded working conditions, nearly 50% of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the U.S. are undocumented, and as such have been left without access to most state and federal aid despite their doing the integral work of feeding our country.
In contrast to their criticality, migrant farm workers’ wages are often not enough to keep their families from experiencing poverty. Parents work long, strenuous hours. Given the astronomical cost, it can be all but impossible to find childcare. The team at East Coast Migrant Head Start Project fills that gap for these parents, giving them a much-needed sense of ease—of knowing their children are cared for while they work. ECMHSP’s work is centered in lived experience, as their executive director, board chair, and many direct care providers are children of migrant farm workers. In 48 centers across the coast, they provide excellent early childhood education to children of migrant farm work up to age six. Children read books, play in sand, build legos, enjoy educational games and group activities, and so much more. In addition to education, the centers meet other critical needs for families: literacy lessons and child development classes for parents, healthcare, nutrition, transportation, and more.
The ECMHSP team cares for these babies like we’d want children in our own lives to be cared for. We are honored to be supporting them as they support these families.
Stay tuned for more stories of other essential workers we are standing with—including frontline nurses and doctors, and teachers and school staff—as well as how you can get involved.