A need for supplies at the U.S. Border Patrol Stations in McAllen and Kingsville led multiple volunteers in Kingsville to collect more than 1,300 hygienic products to donate to the South Texas facilities.
Last week, local business owner Maggie Salinas, with the help of volunteers, filled supply bags for immigrant women and children being held at both facilities.
“I have been doing this distribution for over four years, but I started with children’s books,” Salinas said. “But it’s so chaotic now and they have them in so many different places I couldn’t keep up.”
Salinas said every year, she visits the facility in McAllen to see if there is anything more she could do besides her usual contribution during the book drive, but a visit this year shifted her focus away from the books.
“It was so heartbreaking,” Salinas said. “There was no place for them to sit and some children were just on foam mattresses on the concrete floor and there was no air conditioning. And there was no indication that they were going to have an evening meal. So, I asked them specifically ‘what would you like for me to bring?’ and they said, ‘we’re in desperate need of hygienic products.’”
Salinas asked multiple non-profit organizations in the area for any possible donations, and was able to collect more than 1,300 products to place inside the bags.
Salinas said the Corpus Christi NAACP, an organization she was glad to work with, made a huge contribution.
“I said to him (NAACP Board President Terry Mills) this is what I’m doing, and he said, ‘I’m in,’” Salinas said. “I’m hoping we can continue (working together). And I want to give them a lot of credit for being so supportive without any questions.”
Each supply bag consists of body soap, shampoo, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, chap stick, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and tissues. Some of the bags also included a hair tie, a comb, shoelaces and a pair of socks.
Salinas said when she began collecting supplies, it was all originally intended for the facility in McAllen, but after she was told about the Kingsville facility having trouble with their female detainees, she also felt the need to assist locally.
“I am going to supply a bag for each lady that has been detained so that they’ll have something to help them at least for now,” Salinas said. “And my drive is going to continue. I will be providing the help for local facilities first, and then (this) week, I will travel to McAllen to take the rest.”
Salinas said she believes it is important to assist people no matter the situation because “we are all still people.”
“I have a lot of compassion for people in need, and especially those that come to our country looking for a better life,” Salinas said. “And I feel like, if we take away all the politics and all the myths that are not true, then you can’t help but want to help these people. This is our country; this is what we do for others and so, why not? And I feel so much compassion for them, that I feel bad if I don’t do my part.”
Salinas said she is still accepting donations and will continue to supply donations throughout the year as needed.
For more information on how and where to donate, call (361) 355-2359.