It’s Cinco de Mayo, so it’s likely you’ll see several residents celebrating their Mexican heritage waving the Mexican flag or driving around with it tied to their car’s hood. But for the San Benito County League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), it’s the perfect day to help those in need, especially during the pandemic.
LULAC will be distributing 50 cellphones and food boxes to local farmworkers on May 5. The cellphones will be distributed at T-Mobile located at 1760 Airline Highway from 4-7 p.m. Food boxes, along with health and education bags for children, will be distributed at Calaveras Elementary School at 1151 Buena Vista Road from 3-5 p.m.
LULAC President Richard Perez said the organization has assisted farmworkers throughout the pandemic by providing hoodies, food and other necessities, as many of them are ineligible for state or federal assistance because they are on working visas or are undocumented. To focus on their needs they formed a farmworker taskforce.
He said that thanks to Mickie Luna’s connection to advocates of farmworkers and labor leaders, such as the United Farm Workers, LULAC was made aware of essential needs of farmworkers that included food, communication, healthcare and work attire.
Luna, a former Hollister City Council member, is the founder and member of the San Benito County LULAC Council #2890.
LULAC organized food drives, compiled and shared information on where and how to get tested for COVID-19 through radio station KMPG. The organization also held a hoodie drive and distributed those to farm workers.
Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation for San Benito County, Perez said LULAC was able to work with Big 5 to provide boots for farmworkers in February. For the second part of the grant, LULAC partnered with T-Mobile to provide cellphones, protective cases and six months of free service.
“We explained in the grant process that parents are out in the field and can’t be in touch with children at home [doing school],” Perez said.
He said after the first six months phone recipients will keep the phone and have the opportunity to continue with the T-Mobile plan, change it or cancel it.
Luna said the food was donated by several San Jose agencies. She said LULAC had a list of farmworkers and was contacting them to inform them when and where to pick up the food. Bags for children include books, color pencils, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Youth LULAC council and young adults LULAC council sorted all the products and placed them in bags, Luna said.
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