BY CAM RENAUD
Lucy and Jaime Arista receiving 30 Care Bags for distribution in El Rincon was just the neighborly thing to do.
Laguna Hills is a small community along the road to the East Cape, whose residents mostly “come from away.” El Rincon de La Playa is a nearby community of local families, many of whom work in businesses or provide services deemed non-essential at this time.
After hearing of the hardships in Rincon during a call with life-long resident Jaime Arista, I asked whether his church needed assistance with the less fortunate. Jaime told me the church was closed by state decree. As an active community member, he also expressed concern about the working families with kids where both parents were forced into joblessness. How would they put food on the table? I had to do something. Tradesmen and workers from Rincon were regulars in our neighborhood and we valued the proximity of their marina, fishing charters, and restaurants for our leisure activities. So, my wife and I decided to put care bags together for distribution over Easter weekend. We shared Jaime’s story and what we were doing (in a socially distanced responsible way) with some of our neighbours in Laguna Hills. Without asking, I started receiving offers of contributions, including some from neighbors who had left Mexico weeks ago. Our neighbor MaryAnne even sewed masks for us to wear on the trip to the grocery store and for Jaime and his wife to wear for distribution.
With Jaime’s guidance, we came up with a list of basic items that included bags of rice, beans, lentils, pasta, canned tuna, tetra pack tomato sauce, tetra pack milk, cooking oil, cookies, bar soap, toothpaste and, of course, toilet paper. My wife and I headed off to the store, wearing our masks and carrying a bottle of home-made hand sanitizer. We each grabbed a shopping cart, after the store attendant sanitized the handle, and proceeded to compile items for 30 bags. The two carts quickly turned into 4 carts and two trips to the parking lot before we headed home to start bagging.
Our garage looked like a food bank with full boxes and bins and a tail-gate bagging station. With help from another neighbor, we got everything bagged up and drove to Jaime’s on Good Friday morning.
When we arrived we found out that between the time of idea to do this and the actual delivery of the cargo, the edicts from the government had been updated and further restrictions on movements were being enforced by police. We left Jaime’s not knowing if he and his wife would be able to deliver the care bags but found out later they proceeded with the deliveries with approval from the police.
We know we only scratched the surface with this effort but at least it was something and maybe, just maybe, we eased the hardship for a few neighbors.