Local high school student organizes pop-up shop to assist migrants

Immigrant families seeking asylum wait at a respite center after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Friday, June 29, 2018, in McAllen. (Eric Gay | The Associated Press)

A. COLLEEN DeGUZMAN | SPECIAL TO THE MONITOR

McALLEN — Driven by compassion, Lamar Academy junior Regina Martinez took action to help migrant families here at the Humanitarian Respite Center.

With a team of six other classmates from the academy’s International Baccalaureate program and the guidance of her older brother, Jorge Martinez, Regina has since March been leading the organization of The Broadway Shop, a clothing and accessory pop-up shop that will donate a percentage of proceeds to purchasing materials for the respite center.

The shop’s grand opening is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday at 311 S. Broadway St. in McAllen, and will run Tuesday to Saturday through June 26.

Regina was inspired to launch the effort upon volunteering at the respite center with a few other classmates.

“We were always talking about what we can improve when we were there,” Regina, 17, said. “We were talking about donating and the fundraisers we could do. We just wanted to do something and that’s how it started.”

At the center, Regina said that she focused on childcare. Assisting with packaging materials and food, she said that visiting the center was an “eye-opener for how crowded” the facility can get.

“I had heard how many people would go, but it did not hit me until I went there – how many of them were little kids,” Regina said. “The kids were trying to learn English. Something we noticed was that they did not want to play; they wanted to learn.”

She added that some of the proceeds from the pop-up shop will also be used for educational materials.

Partnerships the pop-up has made include Shop 112, Love and Lemonade, In Style Accessories, Amri Soap and Maria Bonita Accessories — all local boutiques.

Additionally, attendees will be able to take photos in front of “Instagrammable” walls painted by high school students for the event. So far, there are a total of six walls.

“Some of my friend’s at school do amazing artwork and I thought we should work together and do this,” she said.

Regina summarized her intentions with The Broadway Shop into three goals: “1. To use as a platform for students to show their artwork; 2: help immigrants who are crossing over; and 3: help local shops.”

She was also a project leader in an International Business Internship Program with Leadership Initiatives, a nonprofit organization that partners with high school students to help businesses in developing countries. Regina took part in an auto-electrical repair shop in Nigeria, Africa. She also coordinated a Harvard Student Agencies Weekend Business Academy at her school.

Regina hopes to attend New York University, Carnegie Mellon University or Harvard University to study business next year.