Like a child just beyond his awkward years, Navidad en el Barrio has cut some apron strings and now looks forward to growing beyond its current boundaries.
The non-profit Christmas charity, which for the last 18 years has spread its fortune throughout Southern California, will hold its first telethon this year out from under the wings of KMEX-TV, which had run the telethon since a year after the Navidad organization was formed.
Although the station continues as a major sponsor of the telethon, management changes there last year forced the charity to take control of its only fundraising event of the year, say Navidad and KMEX officials.
The telethon, which will still air on KMEX, will be Dec. 9 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., airing from Universal Studios. Also, a radiothon will air on KTNQ-KLVE beginning Dec. 8 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and resume Sunday morning before the telethon. The radio station will also broadcast from the telethon.
The event will be held at Universal Studios in an effort to attract a variety of people to the telethon, said Raymond T. Rosas, Navidad Executive Director. "We needed more of a crossover to reach non-Spanish speaking Latinos . . . . It will give us the opportunity to reach that group and reach other non-Hispanics who are sensitive to the problems of Latinos," he said.
Organizers have set a goal of $1 million this year, up from $437,000 raised last year.
"It's real exciting to do something at this scale," Rosas said. "It's a big challenge, but there's also a sense of validation and taking control of yourself and growing up.
"We've grown gracefully over the years and feel we can handle the amounts. It's no longer a sense of doing this from the heart, but now it's a combination of the heart and the mind."
The Montebello-based charity distributes food and toys to 31 agencies in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.
At the Delhi Community Center in Santa Ana, that means an additional 350 families will receive food and toys this Christmas, according to Executive Director Guillermo Cordoves.
"It does help us with not having to buy food for this once-a-year program. Our budget doesn't permit us to buy for the 350 families this year," Cordoves said.
At the St. Francis Center in Los Angeles, 600 families will receive food and toy baskets this year, said Rosa Enriquez, who coordinates the Navidad donations there.
As Navidad matures, it has plans for extending its charity programs throughout the state and throughout the country by 1995, Rosas said..
Navidad en el Barrio asks that at least 50% of an agency's clients be Latino. One of the reasons for this, Navidad officials say, is to continue the charity's mission that Latinos help their own.
Rosas maintains that Latinos, many of whom have come from poor families, know best how to give to less fortunate Latinos.
"There is a cultural advantage," Rosas said. "What we've done is to get away from the welfare system of the white dominant society giving to the poor Mexicans. We want to empower the people who are in need, but we don't want them to feel needy."
At the same time, Navidad tries to buy most of its groceries and toys from companies owned and run by Latinos.
"We have a debt to society to help our own and there's a lot of capability . . . to do that," said Charles Aedo, vice president of Cacique Inc. Aedo is in charge of this year's telethon.
A 40-phone bank will be set up to handle calls during the telethon. The toll-free number to pledge for Navidad en el Barrio is 1 (800) 466-NEEB.