Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. This is the time, every year that we reflect on everything that we have that is good and the people we love and express a special appreciation for the joy in each of our lives. It is also the time when we start to look ahead to the Holiday gift-giving season and perhaps take pause to think of those less fortunate than ourselves.

Recently, Gayle Collins from KKiS - Keeping Kids in School made us aware of a local community in need of support. The village is called Nuevo Noh Bec and it is located in the far northwest quadrant of Playa del Carmen, about 9 kilometers into the jungle. The only road into Nuevo Noh Bec is rough, requiring a 4-wheel drive vehicle to make the trip. As you can imagine many of the residents will never leave the village. There is no health care available meaning most ailments go untreated and emergency situations become grave more often than not.

Nuevo Noh BecIt was surprising to learn that the #1 health issue in the village is snakebite. Many of the homes and all of the classrooms are open air or enclosed only by sticks, which allow the air to circulate through but do nothing to prevent snakes and other undesirable jungle residents from entering. Because the children do not leave the village many of them simply do not have shoes. The shoes they do have are simple plastic flip-flops or "chanclas" which provide no support or protection from sharp stones, stinging insects and snakes. It seems like such a simple thing, to buy shoes to prevent snakebites and other injuries but in a town with no resources and virtually no access to conveniences like shoe stores or even grocery stores, this is not possible.

The good news is assistance is coming! Caring people in the Playa community like Gayle Collins and Russell Granger with The Amigos Network are slowly but surely getting the word out about Nuevo Noh Bec and similar communities in need and putting them in front of individuals, business leaders and charitable organizations who can and want to help. KKiS is working to bring much needed school supplies to the children of the village and the Amigos Network is finding sponsors to build "knee-walls" to partially enclose the classrooms and collecting medicines and first aid supplies so that basic medical needs can be met in the village.

For our part, Rob and I are starting a holiday giving initiative we are calling "Kicks 4 Kids". Our mission is to provide shoes for all the children in Nuevo Noh Bec...specifically sneakers which provide adequate support for growing feet as well as protection from snake bites and other potentially dangerous puncture wounds. Some of the children are walking up to a kilometer to school everyday without proper shoes. Imagine trying to run and play a game of futbol (soccer) in bare feet or thin, flimsy flip-flops. Our goal is to collect 400 pairs of new or gently worn sneakers to deliver to the children of Nuevo Noh Bec before Christmas. Of course, shoes for growing children are an ongoing need and the collection will continue to run throughout the year with deliveries to the village every few months. We hope to make a big shipment every year just before Christmas.

Kicks 4 Kids Playa del Carmen 

How can you help? This is a simple one! If you are coming to the Riviera Maya, bring along a pair of new or gently worn sneakers and leave them in one of The Amigo Network's three convenient drop-off locations. It seems to me my children are growing out of their sneakers long before they have outlived their usefulness. Maybe you have the same situation in your household. Maybe you have a Target, Walmart or Payless Shoe Store near you running fantastic holiday sales with sneakers at bargain prices.

The shoes sizes needed are US Toddler 3 - Youth/Adult 7 and MX Child 12 - 25, Adult 4 - 7. Please consider tucking a pair or two into your luggage when you come to the Riviera Maya this holiday season and dropping them off at one of the following Amigos Network partners.

Wah Wah Beach Bar - Calle 2 on the Beach

Glamour Salon - Under the Mega Supermarket, Av. 30 & Constituyentes

The Bric Hotel - Calle 28 between Av. 5 & Av. 10

It seems like such a simple thing but you can't imagine what a new pair of sneakers will mean to these children who have so little.  Special thanks to Kim and J.J. Johnson at Wah Wah, Kristin and Marcus Roehmer at the Bric Hotel and Rosa Gonzalez at Glamour Salon for their support and assistance with this project. For more information, contact me at . For more information about The Amigos Network and their projects, follow them on Facebook.


Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.