*Updated February 2015*

"On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...."

This beloved traditional holiday song is the inspiration for our Holiday Giving blog series, "12 Days/12 Ways", a promotional effort of goodwill we started last year to draw attention to 12 not-for-profit groups or charitable organizations in Playa del Carmen and along the Riviera Maya. So many people from around the world travel to the Riviera Maya during the holiday season. Many reach out to us via regional message boards and Facebook looking for a way to give back to the less fortunate residents in our local communities. 12 Days/12 Ways was started to help these generous, kind-hearted visitors find legitimate and worthy charitable organizations to support, addressing their particular needs for this holiday season.

For each of the 12 days of Christmas, the BuyPlaya Blog, better known as "Life's a Beach", will spotlight a charitable organization or giving opportunity. Some may already be familiar to locals and frequent travelers to this area. Others, perhaps those most in need of recognition and support, may be new to our readers. It is our hope to do this every year, with updated information and wish lists.

The "12 Day/12 Ways" list has been completed for 2012. If you have a favorite charity that you feel belongs on our list for 2013, collect all of the information you can and I will be happy to consider your group for inclusion.


Casa Hogar Para Ninos Esperanza ACCasa Hogar Para Niños Esperanza is located in Colonia Alfredo V Bonfil, in Cancun, Mexico about half way between downtown and the Cancun International Airport. It is a Christian based children’s home.The "Children's House of Hope" was founded by Pastor Ascencio Mancilla and his wife Ester, over 20 years ago. Even though they own a home across the street, they live at Casa Hogar in a modest bedroom and are the de facto Mama and Papa for the children.

While Casa Hogar is a Christian based orphanage, they welcome help from those of any faith, or even those of no faith.. Currently, they have children with ages from 5-21. Though the biggest need is food, all gifts and donations are welcomed and appreciated.

How can YOU help?

Sponsoring all or part of a weekly grocery shopping trip is a great gift. It is fun and even more so if you have children and join us on our every Wednesday morning shopping trip, and then we deliver everything and visit Casa Hogar. You can see that every penny/peso goes to help the kids. Casa Hogar receives no government funding and is 100% dependent on the gifts of others. We love telling our little helpers to “Put 20 red apples in this bag. Make sure they are apples that you would eat and not apples with worms in them.” The kids love to help. One of our best shopping trips involved kids from a local university who did a fund raiser. You could tell that these kids were privileged and had never helped mom or dad at the grocery. But they figured it out and were having a total blast. Same with a recent group of four 40 something ladies. They knew how to shop but but they had a great time. 3 of the 4 ended up in the trampoline with the little guys.

You can imagine that providing for the basic needs of children is no small feat! Keeping these boys and girls clothed and fed is an ongoing need and any contributions are welcomed. Grocery gifts are appreciated, and all can be found at Costco & the Mega Superstore that share the same parking lot, and include:

Cases of milk, preferably the Nutri-Leche brand
Boxed fruit juice, preferably 100% juices.
Packages of 30 eggs
Chicken, Meat, Pork, Chorizo Sausage, Deli Ham & Turkey
Bread, preferably loaves of Integral (Bimbo brand), as opposed to plain white bread.
Fruit – red apples, bananas, oranges, tangerines, pineapple and papaya
Vegetables – carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, small white potatoes, white onions, tomatoes, etc.
Canned tuna fish, preferably the Kirkland brand from Costco.
Turkey hot dogs and buns, but less buns than “dogs” as the little guys like to just dip them in catsup.
Catsup, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Peanut Butter, Strawberry Preserves, etc.
Cereal, preferably healthy and not loaded with sugar. We suggest, All Bran & Special K.
Cotton bed sheets - twin sized
Plastic mattress covers - twin sized
White bath towels
Books, coloring & activity books, and games in Spanish

Casa Hogar Cancun OrphanageShoes and clothing are always needed but it’s hard to buy as the body types are different here in Mexico. All gifts of shoes & clothing are greatly appreciated and if they cannot be used, they are sold at periodic yard sales with all proceeds going to Casa Hogar. Monetary donations for shoes and clothing are far better than trying to fit each child.

For more information, contact Friends of Casa Hogar at a USA number that rings in Mexico, 407-354-3600, or visit the website and Facebook page.

Donations can be sent by PayPal from the Donate area of our website, or directly via PayPal, to TCarter789[at]gmail.com. Your PayPal receipt will show your donation to Friends of Casa Hogar.

If you are a church or philanthropic group, and are looking for a one time or ongoing project, contact Friends of Casa Hogar via the website, by Facebook, or by phone, to discuss their current needs.


Michele Kinnon

I moved to Mexico with my family in 2004 with the hope of offering our children a more global education and world view. Since then, we have traveled through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, gathering friends and life experiences and learning a lot about ourselves along the way. When we are not out and about exploring, Rob and I own and operate BuyPlaya, a Playa del Carmen real estate company and FurnitureMex. "Life's a Beach" is a catch-all blog where you may find anything from restaurant reviews, to recipes, gardening tips, commentary about expat daily life, local events, information about moving to Mexico and educating children in Playa del Carmen. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and .