RCMAOscar Olguin

By Bill Coats

Christmas lights beam from palm trees. Oranges and tomatoes dangle on Christmas trees.

Those are some of the Florida-grown images featured on Christmas cards created by the children of Redlands Christian Migrant Association, and available for purchase. The cards are a fundraising project for Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), a nonprofit association of child-care centers and charter schools for low-income Florida families.

RCMA operates only in rural areas, and the art reflects the children’s surroundings. Christmas gifts cluster under palms. Strawberries form wreaths.

“Our kids dream of snowmen, but produce is what they know,” said Barbara Mainster, RCMA’s executive director. “They outdo themselves every year.”

Headquartered in Immokalee, RCMA serves nearly 7,000 children each year in 21 Florida counties. It’s especially busy in the Tampa Bay area, operating 18 child-care centers and two charter schools.

Last year, the Christmas card program generated $27,000, which RCMA used to enhance the operations and supplies of its child-care centers. Each dollar raised qualifies RCMA for a $16 match under its contract with the Florida Office of Early Learning.

Christmas cards may be ordered by calling RCMA’s Jean Eklund at (800) 282-6540 ext. 244.

Buyers can also complete an order form found at www.rcma.org/RCMA _Brochure%202015%20FINAL.pdf and mail it to RCMA. Purchasers of 100 cards or more can customize the message inside with photographs and signatures.