Spurred By Anger At The Trump Administration, One Latina Entrepreneur Raised $9,000 For Migrant Children
When pictures emerged last week of the devastating conditions immigrant children were being subjected to at detention centers, Patty Rodriguez felt she couldn’t idly stand by. The images made such an impact on Rodriguez that she knew she had to do something to help the children any way she could.
In one weekend, the co-founder and author of bilingual children’s books Lil’ Libros mobilized her social media followers to raise over $9,000..
Rodriguez mobilized her 90,000 Instagram followers to raise enough money to send hundreds of pairs of shoes to a shelter in Texas. On June 28, Rodriguez saw a photo of a little boy about her son’s age, with a diaper completely soiled and wrapped in a foil blanket. The phot was enough to spur the entrepreneur into action.
“How are people debating this?” Rodriguez said while choking up during a phone interview with mitú.
“There’s no time to focus on that. I went on Zappos to buy shoes myself, and I thought I could purchase a handful myself, or ask my community on Instagram if they wanted to help,” Rodriguez said. “People want to help, they just don’t know how. There’s all this information that you can’t donate to detention centers, but there’s a loophole that you can donate to shelters, but people just don’t know that.”
The shoes are not the only way Rodriguez is using her platform to help the migrants. She recently teamed up with Super Mamá’s Bricia Lopez to raise money for RAICES.
“I called my girlfriend Bricia Lopez to do a dinner and use our platform to get people inspired. Within hours we had set up a website, it was $150 a ticket, and in less than 12 hours we had sold out. 100 percent of the proceeds go to RAICES,” she said.
RAICES is a non-profit legal services organization in Texas. They made national news when the migrant crisis started directly targeting children at the southern border. They offer legal aid to the migrants as they cross into the U.S. to guarantee the best outcome for their cases.
Rodriguez used the momentum from selling out her charity dinner in less than a day to push to do more.
“I saw a photo of a little girl, Afro-Latina, with foil blanket [strings] to tie her hair—things we take for granted. I got fired up and decided to put it [buying shoes] on Instagram Stories and show the receipts through the process,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez started posting on her Instagram Stories about buying shoes and asking her followers to help at 9 p.m. Friday night. By Saturday morning, her Venmo account had reached $7,000 with donations.
Sunday saw another outpouring of donations and her account hit $8,000. By Monday morning, $9,000 had been raised to help the children at the detention centers.
In total, Rodriguez estimates she was able to buy 50 pairs of high-quality shoes for every $1,000 raised. With $9,000, Rodriguez said she estimates Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande will be receiving close to 400 pairs of shoes.
Sizes ranging from toddler sizes to sizes for 15 to 16-year-olds will be shipped out and arriving as soon as this week.
“As a mother of two kids, I can’t sit down and do nothing. I spent Saturday on Zappos figuring out what’s the fastest way to get it done,” Rodriguez said.
No matter how small the action—or donation—Rodriguez sees it contributing to the good of the cause. Although some donors were writing to her that they didn’t think their $1 or $5 donation would do much but they wanted to help, she encouraged them by continuing to post on her stories that every dollar was helping a child get a new pair of much-needed shoes.
Rodriguez calls it being the “granito de arena in a situation.”
Tiny but mighty changes can make a big difference. When asked if a call for donations will happen again, Rodriguez said she is open to the opportunity.
“It’s spur-of-the-moment—that’s how I operate. I would like to think it’s something I can continue doing. Perhaps more streamlined—helping more shelters,” she said.
Rodriguez said she is aware that as much as shelters are in need of basic necessities, they also don’t have enough hands. She continues to wonder what shelters may be in most need of besides shoes, and if it’s better to send money to the shelter or if sending over boxes of items is better.
“I haven’t thought that far,” Rodriguez said. “I want to continue helping because this situation won’t have a solution anytime soon. We have to continue advocating and continue collaborating as a community.”
While she said there’s not much we can do right now besides calling Congress, she still wants to encourage others to galvanize awareness.
“What we can do as a community is mobilizing to donate and help shelters where kids are being held,” she said.
Rodriguez said she hopes this inspires others to start their own donation drives within their own community, work, and a group of friends. When one granitode arena joins with another, it can be a sandstorm of change.