When I heard Sr. Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, speak at the 2016 GIVEN Forum, I felt compelled to help her mission close to the US-Mexico border but I had no idea how or why. I prayed and waited for God to make a way.
God began to show me the way with the first Bottles2TheBorder campaign on December 8, 2018. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and of GIVEN, led four of us with the New Wave Feminists organization to Sister Norma’s Humanitarian Relief Center with a little under $10,000 in supplies raised solely from a social media campaign. We were also able to contribute funds for added toilet facilities because, as women know, there are never enough public ladies’ restrooms.
Fast forward to June of 2019 when the New Wave Feminists’ leader was brought to tears at the presentation of $133,151 of donations raised in less than 2 weeks from 50 different pro-life organizations representing countries throughout the world! This agnostic leader was able to purchase 750 rosaries and thousands of other supplies including diapers, formula and water!
Bottles2TheBorder started as a text message, then a conversation, and now it is a movement with its own website: www.bottlestotheborder.com.
“I don’t have leadership or influence beyond phoning friends and connecting them to the right leaders, but I was still able to spark an idea that caught international fire and will continue on far beyond anything I could ever ask or imagine.”
I don’t have leadership or influence beyond phoning friends and connecting them with the right leaders, but I was still able to spark an idea that caught international fire and will continue far beyond anything I could ever ask or imagine. Bottles2TheBorder now has an 18-wheeler trucking container that was generously donated when we realized we had more supplies than car space to carry them. The side of the shipping container proclaims Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
The Holy Spirit carried this very long term GIVEN action plan to become something bigger than any of us, because God’s children, our brothers and sisters in Christ, need us in the Rio Grande Valley to be the hands and face of Christ to our neighbor.
Jeremiah 29:11 encapsulates the entire Bottles2TheBorder mission. We are truly a non-professional, ragtag lady team that shows up and gets stuff done regardless of whether we know what we are doing, because this is God’s plan, not ours. We’ll figure out how to back the 18-wheeler into a tiny alleyway and how to operate the rickety conveyor belt. We’ll joyfully endure the 120 °F heat index and the alleyway that leaves us reeking of dumpster juice.
“No matter how seemingly small it is, I cannot wait to see what God will have us do next.”
All of us, agnostic, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or nothing at all, acknowledge that even though our minds think very differently about many things, we all see the sacred humanity of our asylum-seeking neighbors. No matter how seemingly small it is, I cannot wait to see what God will have us do next.