Imagine a poverty-free Ojochal… that is what four women said to each other in 2014 before creating the Family Support Center of Ojochal. They didn’t want to see their neighbors going to bed hungry and they saw ways that the community could help. 

Their goal became to provide services to children and families in the Ojochal area to improve the wellness, safety, education, and economic opportunities of struggling individuals and families. Their quest began with one family, which soon after became many.

Families in Ojochal who face obstacles to their good health or are lacking in social and economic opportunities for any number of reasons can reach out to FSCO and apply for support. By supporting struggling families and individuals in meeting their most basic needs, the FSCO aims to create an environment where they can overcome their obstacles and flourish. They recognize that stable and self-sufficient families provide the foundation for a healthy community.

Inside La Manita – FSCO’s thrift store in Ojochal

What Is FSCO?

The Family Support Center of Ojochal is a registered charity and not-for-profit corporation in Costa Rica. FSCO provides for home and community-based support to parents, caregivers, and children who are at risk of hunger, economic marginalization, or poor education. Volunteers contribute their time, passion, ideas, and energy to supporting fundraising events and connecting with the families that the organization serves. 

Each family that FSCO supports is interviewed to make sure that the organization’s services cater to the family’s needs and aspirations. This promotes the recipients’ self-determination and embraces the cultural differences found within the local community.

The FSCO’s main priorities include feeding those most in need by collecting donations that go towards purchasing food vouchers for clients. This is done through generous donations from community members, regular fundraising events like Ojochal’s community garage sale, bingo games, or sponsored music/art events, as well as through the two Ojochal thrift stores: La Manita and the Boutique. FSCO volunteers also assist in organizing child care and development through camps and extracurricular classes, and adult development opportunities for advancing employment and other life skills.

A bingo fundraiser organized by FSCO in Ojochal

FSCO’s Legacy In Ojochal

Since 2014, FSCO has provided hundreds of families with food basket and voucher donations, as well as back-to-school provisions, Christmas baskets, summer camp excursions for kids, and more.

For a little more context about what your donations can afford for our Ojochal neighbors in need, consider that:

  • $2,000 a year meets the basis needs of one family
  • $100 a month provides food for one family
  • $75 provides shoes, shirts, a backpack, and school supplies for one child 
  • $50 sends a kid to camp for a week

Local musicians like Johnny Donut in Ojochal organize fundraising concerts on behalf of FSCO

How To Volunteer

Volunteer staff at FSCO/La Manita perform a variety of helpful tasks, including sorting incoming goods, driving families to appointments, and helping out with fundraising events. There are more structured and less structured ways to help that suit a variety of interests.

La Manita is open from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm Tuesday and 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm Thursday, and requires staff for each 3-hour shift. It helps if you speak rudimentary Spanish; however, it is also valuable to have a great attitude and a willingness to help the local families find what they need.

A section of La Manita’s thrift store with most items selling for 500 colones

The Family Support Center of Ojochal is always seeking new sources of funding to support their programs and to expand services. They aim to include tutoring, facilitating home businesses, micro-financing, and group programs for women and children in their future efforts.

Transportation is an area in which many families in Ojochal are lacking, especially when it comes to critical health appointments. FSCO volunteers are called to help drive families to important appointments, deliver items to their home, or even help them with bigger shopping excursions.

Often, donated items such as furniture, appliances, and electronics that are not appropriate for passing on to struggling families are auctioned through the FSCO/La Manita Facebook page and the proceeds generated from these sales go directly to supporting the FSCO in their efforts.

If you are moving out or moving in, building, or renovating, there are a multitude of ways that you can help. Contact the volunteers at FSCO/La Manita to pick up any unused construction materials, furniture, fixtures, appliances (in good or easy-to-repair state). There are many items that can be used within the local community and this organization is on the pulse of who needs it the most.

If you have room in your suitcase while coming to Ojochal, FSCO/La Manita volunteers are waiting on a list of items from outside the country that can really help families in need.

FSCO/La Manita is accepting donations of:

  • Clothing (adult, children and babies)
  • Shoes
  • Baby Care Items (car seats, cribs etc)
  • Toys and games
  • Furniture
  • Beds, bedding and linens
  • Kitchenware and small appliances
  • Household items (lamps, fans, coasters, clocks, etc)
  • Tools
  • Building supplies
  • We are unable to accept the following items:
  • Books
  • CD / DVD / Video tapes
  • Electronics (printers, computers, phones, players, cables, chargers etc.)
  • Any item requiring repair
  • Food

A garage sale fundraiser organized by La Manita in Ojochal

All donations must be clean, bagged or wrapped in plastic, and delivered to La Manita during normal business hours. If you have large items such as furniture, appliances, televisions and receivers, please email or Facebook Message, and a volunteer will discuss the donation with you, including the possibility of picking it up.

As always, cash donations are needed to fund the support we provide to families. Details on how you can help are at https://www.fscojochal.org/donate. Donations can also be made in person at La Manita on Tuesdays from 9am – 12pm and Thursdays from 12pm – 3pm. Credit card and Paypal donations made through the website are US tax deductible.

Questions about FSCO/La Manita and other ways to help out in the Osa area, contact our team at [email protected] To stay up to date with more articles about life and real estate in South Pacific Costa Rica, fill out the form below.

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