Festivities and Fun at our NJ Fall Fundraiser

Last Thursday, September 23rd, we gathered at The Primavera Regency in Stirling, NJ, for our NJ Fall Fundraiser. It was the first time we have hosted an event in New Jersey, but hopefully not the last!

Our New Jersey supporters hold a special place in our hearts. This is where Mission Santa Maria was founded, and where so many of our first and most loyal supporters come from. Over the past 14 years, Mission Santa Maria has changed and grown significantly. But the generosity of the people that make this work possible has never wavered.

In addition to so many familiar faces, we were ecstatic to meet new friends at our event. Welcome to the Mission family, we are so glad you joined us!

We have a few more events coming up in the next two weeks. Check out our events page here to see if we are coming to your area. Thank you for being on this journey with us!

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Tutors lead fun learning activities at the Mission Home: Pick Up Straw Game

The children at the Mission Home are well into the school year and, thanks to our tutors, are continuing to actively participate and advance through virtual learning. As we have shared before, we are so grateful for all our tutors do at the Mission Home! Our tutors provide incredible support to the children during school hours, lead small groups of children through their virtual classes, teach supplemental lessons to ensure adequate understanding, provide homework help, and specifically work with children with educational deficits to ensure they can enroll in the Mission School. One of the things you may not know is that outside of school hours, our tutors lead developmentally appropriate, educational activities and games for the children. This not only increases playful learning hours at the Mission Home, but also gives the missionary sisters a little bit more time to finish the thousands of tasks on their to-do list before the children return to their care. 

Children at the Mission Home race to collect the most bottle caps using a straw in the Pick Up Straw Game.

Recently, one of our tutors led the children in a fun pick up game with straws. It was simple yet provided endless entertainment and competition. In addition, the game is great for building oral motor skills in young learners (though all school-age children enjoy it!). Here are the step by step instructions for how you can recreate the game at home: 

The children must use their straws to carry the plastic bottle caps back to their designated cups.

Pick up Game with Straws

Supplies needed: Plastic bottle caps of various colors*, straws, cups 


  1. Line up all the bottle caps, on one side of the room. Line up the number of cups to correspond with the number of players on the opposite side of the room from the bottle caps. 
  2. Give each child participating a straw.
  3. Have the children run from their cup to the bottle caps. Using their straws, the children must carry a bottle cap back to their cup.
  4. The child to collect the most bottle caps at the end of the designated playing time wins. 

If your child is playing solo with a straw and bottle caps, some fun alternatives to the competition could be to:

  1. Write a letter of the alphabet on each bottle cap and pick them up in alphabetical order
  2. Write a number on each bottle cap and pick them up in chronological order
  3. Write each letter of the child’s name on a bottle cap and pick them up in correct order to spell their name 

*We use bottle caps in Ecuador because it is easy to find them in the recycling, but colorful pieces of paper also work great!

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