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El Centro donations to help families affected by immigration raid at Corso's

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    Thelma Cruz, community and health coordinator and mental health navigator with El Centro de Servicios Sociales, loads boxes of diapers, toys and a car seat donated by Carolyn Moes, of Vermilion, into a van that will be taken to help families affected by the immigration raids that took place in Sandusky earlier this week.



    Thelma Cruz, a licensed social worker, community and health coordinator, and mental health navigator with El Centro loads boxes of diapers into the van that will be taken to help families affected by the immigration raids that took place in Erie County earlier this week.



LORAIN — El Centro de Servicios Sociales Inc. collected donations Saturday for the families of workers taken into custody in Tuesday’s immigration raid in Sandusky.

More than 100 undocumented workers were arrested, following raids on two Corso’s Flower and Garden Centers in Sandusky and Castalia. The incident left a number of children with one or no parent, prompting El Centro to go door to door to see what individual needs were.

Thelma Cruz, community and health coordinator and mental health navigator for El Centro, was on hand to help community members load boxes of diapers, baby formula, toiletries and food into the organization’s van. They plan to take the donations to about 15 to 20 families in Norwalk and Willard today.

“As you can imagine, the families are in fear, they’re locked in their homes, they’re not even going out to get the basic necessities at this point,” Cruz said. “So we’re trying to reach out to the community to help these families; and a lot of organizations have come and given donations, so our plan is to take them to the local churches out there and drop them off and hopefully this will help some of these families.”

El Centro Executive Director Victor Leandry said the goal is to deliver on promises made to the families his staff have connected with.

“So from my standpoint, (this collection is) to be sure that if some family (is) asking for something and if (we) promise that we’re going to help, that we go back to these families and deliver what we promised,” he said. “So many organizations (are) doing collections, but this community is so scattered and those kids are so scattered right now in different places that it’s difficult to reach. So we want to be sure that the ones that we reach get what they need.”

Leandry stressed the organization is not collecting clothes, but what families told caseworkers they needed — mainly diapers and baby formula.

Monetary donations also are being accepted, as they can be used to pay families’ bills, rent and put on prepaid visa cards to allow them to call those who were arrested Tuesday. Phone calls with those at immigration detention centers cost about $3 per minute and require a credit card to put money on an account to make the call, something many families do not have, Cruz said. El Centro is taking cash, and checks or money orders should be made out to El Centro de Servicios Sociales Inc., with a note in the memo line about the purpose of the donation.

Moving forward, while El Centro will continue its work in Lorain and surrounding areas, it will collect monetary and other donations for the families in Huron County.

“I don’t think we’re going to be (in Norwalk and Willard) every single day because we have our work and programs to do here, but I think this is going to … take awhile,” Leandry said. “(Community members) can still donate.”

El Centro is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It is open similar hours on Fridays, but closes its front doors early.

“We’re the closest Spanish organization here, so we’re trying to kind of reach out to these families and try to help them out as much as possible,” Cruz said.

Contact Carissa Woytach at 329-7245 or

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