Christmas trip to Mexican orphanage planned

There are 102 children at the El Faro Orphanage in Tijuana. The directors are currently building an outdoor multibathroom for the children, which is in the framing stage, and need financial help as well as help finishing construction for the building.

Local Realtors ask community for donations and help for their yearly Christmas trip to bring much needed items to a Tijuana orphanage.

For the past five years, Malibu residents Lea and Leon Johnson, along with volunteers, have been going down to Tijuana, usually in monthly trips, bringing much needed supplies of food, clothes, shoes, school supplies and more to the El Faro (The Lighthouse) Orphanage. The Johnsons are planning their second trip this month to deliver items to El Faro before Christmas.

There are 102 children currently living at El Faro, about 12 babies under age 1, and the rest of the children are between ages 3 and 16. There is a school on the orphanage premises with several classrooms, six hired teachers paid by El Faro at $30 per week salary. There is a need for an additional kindergarten teacher, but there are no funds available to pay for this teacher, Lea Johnson wrote to The Malibu Times. Additionally, there is approximately only six more months of available funds left for the salaries of the current teachers.

“Things have been improving dramatically at the orphanage in the last few years, especially in the last three years, when more people jumped in and visited El Faro, bringing much needed help, cash donations and helping with construction needs,” Johnson wrote.

Prudential Malibu Realty, where Leon and Lea are Realtors, has been instrumental in collecting Christmas presents and contributing donations to El Faro children in the last few years. On Saturday, Leon and Lea went to El Faro with Realtors Kate Novotny and Amy Corrodi, bringing donations and Christmas presents to the children that were donated by Realtors from Prudential.

“The children were very happy to see us and gave us big smiles and hugs,” Lea wrote.

George and Carmen Gonzales, the directors running El Faro, asked the Johnsons if presents could be collected for the older children such as tape Walkmans, small, portable CD players, music CDs or music cassette tapes, hand-held electronic games, batteries for the donated toys, make-up, nail polish, hair shampoo and hair clips, etc.

In addition to bringing presents, food and other necessities, help with construction needs is provided to the orphanage.

The Gonzales’ are building an outdoor multibathroom for the children, which is in the framing stage. They need financial help with putting the roof, floor tiles and windows in, and finishing construction for the building, as well as help with patching holes, painting and repairing other buildings and classrooms. The Johnsons are seeking help from contractors who would like to go to El Faro for a day and work on repairs.

Lea Johnson says that although there is an ongoing need for food, they are physically unable to truck the food into Mexico, so food items are being purchased across the border. They are also not allowed to take used clothes across the border anymore.

The following items are urgently needed: toiletry items, underwear for boys and girls ages 3-16, socks, towels, twin bed sheets and pillows, hanging mirrors in all dorms, small shelves in all dorms, school supplies, diapers, detergent, bleach, (they wash 32 loads of clothes at El Faro every day). There is also a constant need for cash donations at El Faro.

Any of these items can be dropped off to Prudential Malibu Realty, 23405 Pacific Coast Highway at Cross Creek Road. For questions or more information on donating specific items, call Lea Johnson at 310.317.1703.

If you wish to join Lea and Leon Johnson on one of their trips to El Faro, or for any donations, please contact Lea at the above number or e-mail:

All donations are tax deductible and should be made out to “My Child Foundation Inc.”

“We wish to thank all who participated and will continue to participate in helping make this a very special Christmas and a very blessed and memorable holiday for the El Faro Children,” Lea wrote. “Loads of gratitude to our Malibu community and all donors.”