Erica De la Garza Lopez got right to work when she took over as president of Friends of IB for the 2021-2022 school year.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization brings awareness about the McAllen ISD International Baccalaureate school at Lamar Academy. It also develops partnerships between IB parents, local businesses and the community. Additionally, members raise money and provide other means of support to the school and its students.
McAllen ISD opened the Rio Grande Valley’s first IB Diploma Programme for 11-12 grades in 2001. It then added the Primary Years Programme (1-5 grades) and the Middle Years Programme (6-10 grades) five years later.
“As a parent, I always know our schools and our programs need so much money to be able to give students more opportunities,” De la Garza Lopez said. Her oldest son, Alex, is an IB graduate. While he is attending Duke University, her daughter, Emma, is a freshman at IB.
“Since COVID, fundraising has been so hard, and it’s difficult for businesses to give as much because of what they have gone through,” she said.
Creating a Mutual Benefit
De la Garza Lopez decided to put her years of hosting craft markets – and her extensive vendor list – to use to host Winter Wonderland Market Day @ IB. The event takes place Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lamar Academy, 1009 N. 10th Street in McAllen.
“As the daughter of a small-business owner, I believe in supporting local,” De la Garza Lopez said. “There is a supply-chain shortage, but we can help local families who earn income as vendors and who suffered throughout the COVID shutdowns.”
All of the money FOIB collects through booth and food-truck fees will provide college scholarships and fund grants for IB student organizations.
“Vendors are not only able to showcase their business and products but also to contribute to supporting the educational endeavors of IB students driven to be active in their community while engaging in a global and rigorous educational program,” said Jeanette Nino, Lamar Academy principal and IB Head of School.
Nino has seen the excitement of students when receiving grants and scholarships.
“Their excitement stems from knowing they now have an opportunity to transform a vision to a hands-on learning opportunity,’’ she said. “Students have been supported with FOIB grants to assist them in furthering an interest of study, engaging in a service project for the community, or making the opportunity to engage in a post-secondary experience affordable.”
The goal for Winter Wonderland Market @ IB is to have 100 outdoor vendors and two food trucks. Those who attend will find an array of products. These include soft hooded ponchos, scarves and blankets made in Ecuador of alpaca wool and brought to the U.S. by missionaries Tirsa and J.M. Delgado.
Another Market favorite is Talavera Décor & More, which offers artisan wooden hearts made in San Miguel de Allende and embroidered bags from Chiapas.
Mother-daughter duo Juany Guerrero and Evelyn Araiza bring SugarLand RGV to the Market. Shoppers can tantalize their taste buds with their popular South Texas treats: “Gummies enchilados, chamoy, y más!” Think of it as a wickedly good combination of salty, sweet, tangy and spicy.
Jennifer Cano, a Prüvit consultant, will have the company’s ketone products to go with her knowledge at the Winter Wonderland Market @ IB.
Lamar Academy’s IB students will play an integral role in the Market, helping vendors set up. They are working as runners and troubleshooters during the event. Students will also be assisting vendors when it’s closing time.
“We need to have the students volunteer, to teach them that it takes work to get what you want,” De la Garza Lopez said.