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Build A Miracle work continues virtually for local volunteers

Daniella Benitez (right) pictured with a family that she helped previously through Build A Miracle.
(Courtesy)

Due to the COVID-19 public health restrictions, including limits on crossing the border, San Diego-based nonprofit Build A Miracle hasn’t been able to have volunteers travel to Mexico to help build homes for families in need.

“Luckily, down in Mexico they were still actually building in small groups and working on it together as a community,” said Daniella Benitez, 16, a student at Cathedral Catholic who has been involved with the nonprofit for several years.

Daniella has continued fundraising and has been keeping in touch with families through phone calls, text and Zoom.

“That was hard because my favorite part about the whole process with them is getting to work side-by-side with the families and interact with them and just feel more connected,” she said.

On Nov. 28, Daniella joined a virtual event in which a family in Tijuana got its first look at a new home, as opposed to the normal in-person commemoration. The pandemic also put an end to the busload of volunteers who would travel across the border to help.

“It’s special but you definitely don’t feel as connected,” said Daniella, who first got involved with Build A Miracle when she was 12.

Build A Miracle has funded more than 300 homes that have been built in Mexico for families living in makeshift shelters, or otherwise in need of a home.

Daniella and her younger brother Gabriel have raised approximately $200,000 since becoming involved with Build A Miracle. Each home costs $16,000 to build, and Daniella and a team of her peers have each raised $1,000 for each one. They’ve also been involved in the actual construction. They have continued their fundraising during the pandemic, being sensitive to how “everyone’s struggling a little bit right now.”

“Everyone’s been so kind and so giving and still they figure out ways to chip in and that’s just the best feeling,” Daniella said. “I think what I try to remind everyone is that no matter how hard we’re having it here, down there it’s so much worse.”

She added that she wants her work to inspire others to learn about Build A Miracle.

“I just want people to really fall in love with the cause and to be motivated to donate or get involved,” she said.

Her work has been recognized by Disney+, which featured her in the show “Marvel’s Hero Project,” and “The Today Show,” which donated to support her work with Build A Miracle.

After the pandemic ends, Daniella said she wants to resume her trips to Tijuana and spend time with the families that Build A Miracle has been helping and get to know them better.

Her goals are “lots of houses, lots of raising money, and hopefully we’ll be able to go down and build these ones.”

For more information about Build A Miracle, visit buildamiracle.net.


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