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Will Rogers

August 11, 2001

Will Rogers

I'm not known for gushing. OK, in some circles I'm not known for being

passably pleasant. But given the response to a column last month asking

for help in gathering supplies for the El Faro Orphanage in Tijuana, I

can't help but gush over the outpouring of generosity so many of you

showed for roughly 70 kids who live three hours away in another country.

Burbank resident Barbara Sykes organized the collection and delivery.

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The day a column asking for rudimentary supplies was published, Sykes was

excited to get 20 calls -- before lunch. And the calls kept coming. And

they kept coming. Weeks later, as vans were being loaded, calls were

still coming.

Though we offered to go anywhere to pick up any donations, an endless

stream called for directions, most personally delivering enormous bags of

rice and cases of powdered milk to Sykes' front porch. In days, her

living room was packed wall- to-wall, then the dining room, and then, a

bedroom.

Apparently, the original column was photocopied and posted on bulletin

boards, and also e-mailed, throughout the area. Two weeks after it was

published, Sykes was still getting 40 calls in a day from people looking

to drop off baby wipes and cereal. Companies organized employees. City

officials talked to community groups. Student athletes made pitches to

their team mates. Supplies for El Faro poured in.

In May, the first time Sykes organized a caravan of minivans and other

family cars to deliver supplies, we had eight vehicles packed to

bursting. Last Saturday, 16 cars, vans and trucks made the climb up a

steep, rocky road to El Faro, a dusty collection of tiny buildings

perched atop a retaining wall made of tires.

Together, we carried more than a ton of rice, a ton of beans, and

cases of powder to make hundreds of gallons of milk. There were pallets

of toilet paper, a trio of cribs, and much, much more. Shade' Ogunleye,

the 15-year-old from Valencia whose resolve to make a difference at El

Faro first hooked the rest us, even came up with a used swing set. The

collection of beams and bolts was taken apart here to be reassembled in

the orphanage's courtyard. We were so heavily loaded, most drivers

stopped before leaving town to add air to tires nearly flattened under

the strain.

I'd list every donor, if only as a gesture of my deep gratitude. But

it would look like a page from a phone book. The best I can manage is a

list of those who made the trip Saturday, hearty souls who donated

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