World Humanitarian Day: Donor Embodies Essence of the Day With Heartfelt Donations to FFTP
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Aug. 18, 2023) One look at Baby Marcela, of El Progreso, Guatemala, and Amy Sanchez was smitten. Marcela reminded the longtime Food For The Poor (FFTP) donor of her daughter, whom she had adopted from Guatemala two decades earlier.
“She is just precious,” Sanchez said. “My daughter, Isa, had those big brown eyes when she was a baby. I see a lot of my daughter when I look at Marcela.”
Marcela was born with ectopia cordis – a rare, usually fatal disorder in which babies are born with their hearts outside their chest. She initially had surgery to correct the condition in September 2021 at Boston Children’s Hospital and returned to Boston in August 2022 for a second procedure. Now back home with her family, 2-year-old Marcela is under the care of doctors in Guatemala.
Like many generous FFTP donors, Sanchez, who lives in Orlando, Fla., supported the charity’s “Have a Heart for Marcela” campaign to fund Marcela’s medical care. Sanchez took the extra step of sending an additional $2,500 directly to Marcela’s family after doctors completed her treatment.
“She needed special food and medication for post-operative care, which I’m sure are very expensive,” Sanchez said. “We decided to make a gift for her family to use for whatever they need, whether it’s books or medicine or anything to help her grow and thrive.”
Sanchez’s history of supporting Marcela and housing and water projects in Guatemala makes her an ideal example of people the United Nations intended to honor with the creation of World Humanitarian Day. Celebrated each year on August 19, World Humanitarian Day is a global recognition of people helping people in times of crisis.
“I believe the better story is probably about all the men and women at Food For The Poor that go into the trenches and the hard-pressed communities and try to serve the impoverished,” she said. “They are trying to help lift people out of their dire situation as best they can.”
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine praised Sanchez for her kindness and humility.
“Amy is so right about our team members and our in-country partners who work tirelessly to help the people we serve,” Raine said. “But we couldn’t do it without her and donors like her who see the need and respond so generously. She is a great humanitarian.”
By the time Sanchez learned about Marcela, she was already a longstanding FFTP donor. She made her first gift in 2005 while attending Mass with her mother at St. Paul Catholic Church in Spartanburg, S.C., where an FFTP speaker shared information about the charity’s mission.
Since then, Sanchez has donated generously to various FFTP causes and projects, such as supporting six children through monthly donations to the charity’s Angels Of Hope child sponsorship program. Her most recent donations are supporting various projects in Guatemala because it is where her adopted children, Marie Isabella (Isa), 20, and Javier, 23, were born.
“I will always be indebted to that country because, if not, my husband and I would have never had the chance to become parents,” she said. “We’re very grateful.”
In 2019, Sanchez and her daughter embarked on an FFTP mission trip to Guatemala because she wanted her to see her original homeland. They visited the community of Sansur, where the people in their group helped to build 23 homes for families in need.
“I was taken aback by what we saw there,” she said. “You’re going into a situation where there’s a great need, and it’s difficult. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it, and it takes you pretty low because it’s overwhelming.”
While on the trip, Sanchez received a call from her mother, who had decided to sell her home in South Carolina and move to Florida to be closer to her children. She planned to give her children the proceeds from selling her home.
“My daughter and I decided to take our share of the money and donate it to Food For The Poor,” Sanchez said. “Some of the other people on the trip were very motivated and touched by what they had seen, and we started a group to raise enough money to build a house.”
Ultimately, Sanchez and her family donated to projects in Guatemala to build homes and to provide treated water for residents.
Sanchez and her husband, Donald “Sito” Sanchez, are partners in Peach State Hobby Distribution, which distributes board games and game cards through six distribution centers.
“God has been very good to us – a lot better to me than I deserve,” Sanchez said. “Maybe that’s why He put that success in my path, so I could share with others.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.