As announced on Gringo Tree, the big fundraising event of the holiday season is the Christmas Gold for Children Gringo Team Challenge. Each $5 donation, delivered in person to DiBacco Restaurante (Tarqui between Simon Bolivar and Gran Colombia), will purchase a Navidad gift for local children at Los Andes School and two orphanages. Your name can accompany the gift; it also enters you into a raffle for a tenth-ounce of gold, an ounce of silver, and dinner for four at DiBacco on drawing night, Tuesday December 19.

The Christmas Challenge was launched on Thanksgiving Thursday by Richard's Gold and Silver Shop team (the Gold Angels) and they didn’t disappoint. Thirty-three entries ($165) were recorded, meaning at least 33 children will receive presents this Christmas.

When asked how they pulled off such a turnout, especially when most gringos were celebrating Thanksgiving, Richard replies, “Our team took the challenge seriously. Despite the holiday, they found time to get their entries in during the day or they made sure they came by that evening for the kickoff. And it’s a good thing, too, given that Team Gold Angels’ target is a thousand dollars.”

Does Richard think his team will win this completion? “I hope not!" he exclaims. "I hope we get beat by another team that raises way more money than we do. If that’s the case, the kids will win big. But our team has set a pretty high bar to start off.”

Four more teams have taken up the gauntlet. The first was Corozones de Oro (Hearts of Gold), organized by Marilyn Gale and named by Diane Ferchel.

The Mothers for Children Team was formed by Sheryle Verkley, who runs the popular Cuencana Cooking Class. Sheryle has not only tapped all of her cooking-class moms, she's counting on lots more to join her team and show just how powerful mothers can be, anytime and anyplace, when it comes to children.

Sheryle explains, “Having lived in Cuenca for more than a year, I’ve been moved by the people and their culture. I’ve seen firsthand how people struggle here. I’m passionate about spreading joy to the community that has so enriched my life and that of my four-year-old daughter, and helping improve the lives of as many children as possible."   

Sheryle adds, “As soon as I learned of the challenge, I didn’t want to just participate. I wanted to run out on the street and grab up every gringo I saw to join. But I went for mothers, because that's where the real power is."

Another announcement came from the Young Living Essential Oils Team, captained by Chelsea Gray and Martha Mays, who insist, “Our strong-hearted group will rise above the others!”  

Finally, there's El Árbol de los Gringos Team. Asked about the Challenge, GT Moderator Eadon Chartres says, “What a way to donate to hundreds of Cuencano kids' Christmas, at the same time as casting a vote for Gringo Tree."

Adds former Las Vegan Deke Castleman, who'll represent Árbol de los Gringos at DiBacco's Newcomer Night, Thursday December 1, starting at 5:30, "And the more entries you buy, the bigger edge you'll have over those with only one ticket in the raffle. Go for the gold."