Staff Report

Emilio Castañeda views Christmas through the eyes of an 11-year-old. As a Floridian, he envisions a place of sunshine, palms and strawberries.
Now, Emilio has translated his vision into published art – on two of the 48 Christmas cards available in an annual fundraiser from Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Profits help RCMA operate its 68 child-care centers and three charter schools for Florida’s rural poor.

“Children’s art usually winds up on a refrigerator,” said Barbara Mainster, RCMA’s executive director. “But our RCMA artists see their art published on Christmas cards, and they get sent around the country.”

Emilio is a 6th-grade science buff at RCMA Leadership Academy, a charter middle school located in Wimauma. At home, he likes to play his guitar and soccer, and he hopes someday to be a video-game designer.

A box of 10 RCMA cards sells for $15. Under a contract with the state of Florida, that $15 entitles RCMA to $240 from the state.

Details can be found at Emilio’s cards, and most in the RCMA catalog, are reserved for buyers of 10 boxes or more, who receive exclusive rights to the card they choose.

The idea for RCMA’s cards originated in 1999 with Agricultural Leader DUDA, Inc. of Oviedo, who along with other Florida farm corporations, many of whom support RCMA, are currently among the leading exclusive buyers of the cards.

From two childcare centers in Homestead, RCMA has grown today to 68 centers in 20 Florida counties. All serve the rural poor, and most serve the children of Hispanic immigrants. RCMA serves over 6000 children — 86 percent Hispanic and 11 percent African-American.

Government grants comprised 85 percent of RCMA’s $60 million annual budget.

For more information, contact Bill Coats, RCMA Director of Communications at 376-8149 or

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