Farmworkers toil in the fields and serve a critical function for all Americans, yet they are hidden in the shadows of American society. That is why for the past 12 years the Florida Catholic Newspaper holds its annual Long-Sleeve Relief campaign — to create awareness about the needs of farmworkers and the important role they play in all of our lives.
The goal of the campaign is to provide clean long-sleeved shirts to protect farmworkers from exposure to the sun’s burning rays and pesticides they might encounter in the fields. Chemicals that saturate the shirts make them unusable after several long days of wear and tear, so having new shirts available fills a critical need. Readers have responded with donations of more than 60 tons of shirts, which have been used to the “point of no return” and thrown away only because there is another one to take its place.
But another function of the drive is to create awareness and allow Florida residents to open their eyes to poverty in their midst. Parish groups and/or school groups are encouraged to visit drop-off sites that directly aid farmworkers to ask questions and see things firsthand.
Monetary donations are also accepted to help with the Florida Farmworker Assocation's outreach to the farmworker community. Last year, we collected over $8,000 in cash donations, which we divided among the three Farmworker Assocations in the dioceses we cover. This year we would like to increase that amount to $10,000.
The popular drive officially begins Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, and runs through Holy Thursday, March 29. The focus of the drive is to donate clean, used or new men’s and women’s cotton long-sleeve shirts that can be used in the fields. In addition or instead of a shirt drive, consider raising funds with a yard sale or bake sale, anything that is easy or convenient for you.
For info on collection site locations
• Visit www.thefloridacatholic.org
• Call Tammy at 407-373-0079
• Email [email protected]