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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

T-shirt drive raises awareness of migrants workers, National Farmworker Awareness Week

After hearing about a long-sleeved t-shirt drive in her class on migrant workers, junior Elizabeth Maxwell took it upon herself to campaign for the long-sleeved shirt drive within her dorm, Breen-Phillips Hall. 

Marisel Moreno, professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and fellow in the Institute for Latino Studies teaches “Migrant Voices,” a community-based learning course. Recently, she encouraged her students and the Notre Dame campus to become more aware of the living conditions of migrant workers in light of National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW) from March 25th to the 31st. 

Moreno said we should care about migrant farmworkers, “Because we depend 100 percent on migrant farmworkers for all of the food that we consume.”

Moreno said the public does not always see the farmworkers that cultivate the food people take for granted.

“[Migrant farmworkers] are essential, we depend on them, but at the same time we don’t see them, society doesn’t care for them, they are expendable, they are exploitable," Moreno said. “This is not an issue of the 60s or the 40s, this is something that farmworkers still [face].” 

NFAW intends to bring awareness to the adversities farmworkers face while honoring them for their essential work. In light of NFAW, Association of Farmers Opportunity Program (AFOP) sponsors a national long-sleeved shirt drive for migrant workers. 

Moreno and Maxwell both said the community needs to be more aware of migrant farm workers.

“There are definitely migrant farm workers in your community," Maxwell said. "We need to be aware of the injustice that they are undergoing.” 

Moreno added, “We are surrounded by farmland … we are very much in the midst of it and we don’t see them, we don’t think about it and it’s such an important part of what this region is about.” 

Maxwell extends her long-sleeved t-shirt drive to the rest of the Notre Dame community March 22 to March 31 by asking for light-colored, cotton long-sleeved t-shirts to be dropped off at Breen-Phillips Hall or through drop-off centers held by La Casa de Amistad in South Bend. 

Notre Dame students can donate long-sleeved t-shirts at various locations in South Bend.

Maxwell said long-sleeved and light-colored t-shirts are important because farmworkers are often exposed to dangerous pesticides, sun exposure and heat on the job. 

Maxwell encourages donations to the AFOP through their Facebook page or PayPal link. Every $1 donation will be used to give brand new long-sleeve shirts to farmworkers.

Maxwell said even students at Notre Dame who might not come into contact with migrant workers can still find ways to help.

“There are ways, you can, as a student right now, contribute to bettering the situation even though we’re in South Bend on university campus.”