Crane said she does it because she relates so much to the children she has met there. (Photo submitted)

Crane said she does it because she relates so much to the children she has met there. (Photo submitted)

Vernon woman launches fundraiser for Mexican orphanage

“I really wanted to help because when I was young and growing up in Mexico, I didn’t have any food either.”

Blanca Crane immigrated to Canada from Mexico at age 10 in 1972.

Though she now lives in Vernon, eight years ago she began renting a timeshare in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. During her first trip, she heard about a local orphanage and became determined to visit. Once she did, she said there was no going back. She has gone every year since.

Having grown up in Acapulco Guerrero, Mexico, she said she feels a special connection to the kids and now makes it her mission to fundraise and collect clothes, food and toys for the children of Casa Hogar Orphanage each year.

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Established in 1993, Casa Hogar is a home dedicated to improving the lives of children living in extreme situations, including those who are orphaned, abandoned, disadvantaged or vulnerable. Located about 10 minutes from the airport, it currently supports over 50 children of all ages, from newborns to teenagers. It runs as a non-profit organization, does not receive any help from the government, and relies on people, like Crane, for donations.

“I really wanted to help because when I was young and growing up in Mexico, I didn’t have any food either,” said Crane, holding back tears. “I’m from Mexico and, growing up, I had no food at all and had to walk miles to get to the ocean and get food. So every time when I go for holidays and I see moms and little kids selling things on the beach — peanuts or watermelon or whatever — I’ll buy everything and give it back to them because it reminds me of what I used to have to do to have food to eat. Now I’ve been in Canada all these years and worked my way up so that now I can help and give back.”

Crane said that as a child she would watch customers enter a local beauty salon and leave looking “beautiful”. She said that before moving to Canada with her sister, she dreamed of one day opening her own studio. Today, it is a reality.

“I don’t usually get help from people other than my clients who I’ve talked to at work in the salon. That’s how I’ve done it for a few years but people have started getting to know me around town now,” she said, hoping to bring more awareness to the cause.

North Okanagan Gleaners donates soup and dried fruit. Normally, Crane then brings all of the goods with her when she visits. She said that because she often has several bags for donation, West Jet allows this luggage to travel free of charge.

“I pay my own way and every cent that is donated for this goes to the children. It’s amazing to lay it out for them and see their faces because they’re always so happy. It’s just been absolutely incredible,” she said.

Unfortunately, this year, Crane is unable to visit Mexico as she is on dialysis and waiting for a kidney transplant. But, she said she is still hoping to contribute. It’s her goal to fundraise and ship the money and items raised to the orphanage.

Anyone interested in donating to the cause is encouraged to visit Crane at her beauty salon Blanca’s Hairstyling at 2906- 31st Ave in Vernon.

Crane also wishes to recognize Charlene Smart, Paddy Hammer, Shelley Zupp and Arlee-Jean Spence for their generous donations.

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Casa Hogar Orphanage, Mexico. (Photo submitted)

Casa Hogar Orphanage, Mexico. (Photo submitted)

Casa Hogar Orphanage, Mexico. (Photo submitted)

Casa Hogar Orphanage, Mexico. (Photo submitted)

The North Okanagan Gleaners donates food to the cause. (Photo submitted)

The North Okanagan Gleaners donates food to the cause. (Photo submitted)