Last week I packed up the toys, stuffed animals and projects that people have knitted for Project Warm Hearts and headed down to the post office. My intention was to mail this stuff off so that John could get a start on sorting and selecting. I was totally unprepared for what happened.
First, understand that they guys at our Post Office are about two of the nicest people around. They are always helpful to me and eager to get my stuff sent out correctly. They are well aware of what the stuff is for and to whom it is going. They think it is a fantastic thing. Once I even stopped in with a map to show them where Xico is. They had no idea.
I knew something was up when I walked in with my boxes and they both took off for the back. They came back out to the front, trailing sheepishly behind the supervisor. Neither one of them wanted to break the bad news to me. They let their boss do the dirty work.
Mexico has now imposed a tax, a duty, on all things sent from Mexico. Even within Mexico! So even if you are sending a wedding present, a gift of used T-shirts or whatever to somebody, expect to pay heavily. Not to mention the cost of postage here, which ain't cheap.
I was not happy, but if I had to pay a tax, so be it. They looked into the box of scarves, gloves, mittens and hats knit by the ladies from the nursing home and said the stuff would have to be taxed as "new items". I tried to talk my way into "used items" by stating that the yarn was leftover bits and not new. They weren't buying it. To make matters worse, they needed receipts for all the items since they were new! Ridiculous, to say the least. But there was no getting around the "law".
The second box contained all of the stuffed animals that Jackie had collected and brought down to me. Stupid me. I had neglected to tear off all the "Made in China" tags. Nothing from China can be accepted in Mexico. They were going to confiscate them, by law, until I said I would tear the tags off and give them to local children. (which was a partial lie but I may end up doing that anyway)
The clincher came when they told me that they have no way here on the island to levy the tax or to collect it. I would either have to take my packages to Customs at the airport or to the central post office in Cancun. They cautioned me that without receipts for the stuff, it would be refused by them also. How in the world am I supposed to ever get receipts for stuff people have hand made?!
I briefly toyed with the idea of just loading everything in the car and driving for three days to hand deliver the stuff to John. Nice idea but not the least bit practical. I would rather send him the money that it would cost do that.
And that's what all of you should do. Scroll back up and click on his link. Then hit his Donate button and specify that you are donating to Project Warm Hearts. I think that by giving John money to buy clothing and toys for the kids is the only way we are going to be able to make a difference in their lives this year.
It fills me with sadness that all of the work of others and myself is for naught this year. But you can make me, and lots and lots of kids, happy by donating. Go on. You know you care.