Blankets for Rio III, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

Last week, during Thanksgiving, 15-year old Hope Bertke served in Monterrey, Mexico with Back2Back, alongside her parents and several other families.  Hope has been on several mission trips with Back2Back and is familiar with the communities that we minister to.  In the weeks leading up to her trip last week, Hope began to think of the families in one such village that we work with in Monterrey, a squatters’ village called Rio III. She wondered how the families there would survive the cold winter months in homes that have no insulation, heating and even sometimes electricity.  Her concern prompted her to take action by collecting money to purchase blankets for those in the community, since most families there have very limited blankets or bedding.

Hope’s goal was to raise $1,000 to purchase 100 blankets.  She began calling friends and family and spreading the word.  Her efforts paid off.  In just a few weeks, she had more than tripled her goal by raising $3,500 – enough to purchase a blanket for every family in Rio III!  Last week, Hope saw her dream realized.  She, along with the rest of her mission trip group, personally delivered a truck-full of blankets to hundreds of families in desperate need.

Reflecting on the experience, Hope said, “While giving out the blankets, the children had huge smiles on their faces.  They were so excited to get something new!  Although many of the kids weren’t big enough to carry their blankets, you could tell that they really appreciated them.  Many of the kids wrapped the blankets around themselves.  Many people don’t realize how cold it gets at night in Mexico.  When we were on our trip, it was getting down to 45 degrees at night and none of the makeshift homes have any heat.  We had just enough blankets for everyone who came to get one.  My original goal was 100 blankets, but God had bigger and better plans for the families in Rio III…we raised enough money for 350 blankets!”

Families began lining up early to receive a new blanket

Hope Bertke, helping to unload the 350 blankets that were purchased as a result of her fundraising efforts

These little boys were very excited to receive their blankets

Hope, helping to distribute the blankets

The Grouzard family (left) pictured with the Bertke family (right) helped by collecting money from friends and family in Chicago to purchase blankets.

Two girls walk home after receiving their blankets