Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Project Warm Hearts In Trouble

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.


lisa said...

What a bunch of xxx000x#$#@#4!!!! If its not one thing its another!!

Jackie said...

How ridiculous! I planed on doing a donation via PayPal as well as giving he stuffed animals. I guess that I will do it earlier and give more $ than I originally planned. Sorry you had to go through the hassle with the P.O.

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

That is such a bummer. I am so sorry. That is a bit of a catch 22. What are you supposed to do?!?!? I hope that it all works out.


Linda Dorton said...

Hi Wayne, I will say this is discouraging to me. My brother and his kids have collected a truckload of sporting goods to donate to poor kids around Merida. The postal folks might just go postal when they see those 20 boxes coming our way.

If you decide to drive the stuff, get it to Merida and I will go with you!

MD in Texas said...

Is there any way to use FedEx or UPS and avoid the tax? Probably not....

How about direct shipments from the US via the same? Although then you have to figure out how to get the items back to the US and perhaps then a duty is still due upon receipt.

I would be willing to kick in on postage costs, for sure.

What a shame! :(

Calypso said...

Wayne - Of course this is a total drag. You have to wonder what goes on in the minds of these people?

I read recently that one must applying for a special visa to donate time or help in any way here in Mexico.

The theme seems to be Mexico's government wants in on the donated action in a big way. It isn't enough that these efforts help reduce the needs of the poor which ultimately falls in their laps - I guess that is too many links in the chain to follow?

We are considering options including going to DF and paying President Calderon a visit. I would like to hear the rational for these actions first hand from the horses mouth.

Please don't give up on this valuable project just yet.

Sue said...

Just had to delete what I really wanted to say as I guess I need to remember that I'm a guest in this country. But I will say that this is so illogical. Would the same hold true if you go to the parcel station in Cancun? Tons of things are shipped and received every day, hard to imagine it is all taxed if being sent within the country? Remember all the donations of clothes and bedding and supplies and food that people made after the hurricanes hit farther down the coast a couple of years ago? Does this mean it all has to be trucked rather than shipped via the post office in order to avoid tax? I guess I'll stop now, my head is just shaking with disbelief at how ridiculous our world is becoming.

Steve Cotton said...

If we put our heads together, we should be able to think of something.

Jane Hudalla said...

I ran into similar "red tape" problems with charitable donations collected after Hurricane Isadore, a disaster which left many thousands of rural northern Yucatan farmers without homes, possessions, electricity and clean water (for several months), and also destroyed crops and livestock--essentially everything. As you know, because I had friends living in one of those farming communities, I felt compelled to to ask for and accept donations. And that's when I boxed thousands of new and used items, donated by many kind people, which were air-shipped, free of charge by Fed Ex, to Mexican customs, where they were held until "taxes" were "arranged." Later, what would be the last (of tons donated and shipped free) arrived in Mexico, I was informed that if I didn't pay what I think was a large amount of hard cash (essentially more than what really nice quality, but gently used items are worth), all of it would be burned. (Really? Well, the Fed Ex contact who delivered this news didn't believe it either.)

What I learned through that experience is this: I was not the only kind-hearted soul dismayed by similar news, and those who haven't experienced extreme poverty and strong-armed oppression probably won't understand.

And I sincerely hope you will have more patience than I did, while you try to explain to others why they should donate money to your good cause, and forget about the other stuff (which, as you now understand, won't get through unless you pay an amount more than the items are worth.) It's not easy to be kind-hearted in this world.

By the way, sincere compliments on your excellent descriptive writing published last Monday. Isn't it amazing the passion and soul searching a friend's news can produce?

My hope is that you will soon find peace in what you have recently learned through experience. And Wayne, it's a really good thing to have the kind of loving heart that can still break.

God bless you.


Nancy said...


That sucks! But I bet now that you've written this some kind person who is traveling in Isla and is on their way to Veracruz will read this and offer to carry them to their destination!

I think that something will turn up, or someone. I'd bet on it, too.

Life's a Beach! said...

That's insanity. As if the Mexican postal system wasn't already hard/bad enough.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable !!! It would be interesting to get a comment from Pres. Calderon as to why the gov't would tax donations of warm little hats and a little stuffed animal for the littlest of the country.

There has to be a sensible solution to this.

Babs said...

Since Mexicans ship a LOT of stuff on the bus in Mexico - I have been one many times, try taking it to the bus station with John's name on it and sending it that way. They will call him to come get the packages and it will be VERY cheap.

Good luck.

KfromMichigan said...

What a bunch of crap! Guess the kids in Cancun will enjoy all the hats I've made. I do like the idea of the bus delivery .. if it will work. I will use pay pal tho as I did last year.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

I can only imagine your frustration at the post office. It is so hard to understand this kind of cr-p.

Calypso said...

By using the rather expensive Mexican mail system the Project was putting money in the coffers - but this isn't enough.

What kind of people care so little for their poor that they would hinder the process of giving.

We are saddened and bewildered. At the same time it is an honor to be associated with people that had the willingness and hearts to care - proving that amongst all the greed and and callous people there are some very fine ones.

We here in Ursulo Galvan, in the Municipal of Xico, Veracruz, Mexico thank you all VERY MUCH. In the truest sense of the word your efforts are recognized and appreciated more than you can imagine.

Kathy said...

Wayne - last winter I sent stuff via Multipak - do you have an office on Isla? Also, we're planning a drive NOB in August, I'd be happy to pick up anything you have there and deliver to John. We'll be stopping in Merida also on our way up NOB.

Also we'd be able to ferry stuff from NOB down to John and Xico if people want to ship stuff to us in California (I think we did that last year also).

We're planning on leaving the first week of August and coming back sometime in September.

Michele in Playa said...

Well that really frosts me!! Really, I actually stammering as I type. I hope Babs' idea works.

Now I'm all pissed off.