December 12, 2008

National City Samaritan continues charity work in Tijuana

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

Don Agustín Lugo is called by many names on both sides of the border, all positive.

Some people call him “The Good Samaritan of National City,” others call him “The Santa Claus of the Border.”

He simply considers himself a man who, under God’s command, tries to help all of humanity, especially those in greater need.

“I do it from my heart, because I like helping people out,” said Don Agustín, who’s 73 years-old and is originally from Puerto Rico. “I’m only doing charity as a Christian man, just like Jesus would,” said Lugo, who has been involved in charity work for the last 40 years, also delivering clothes and food to Tijuana poor colonias.

Don Agustin is famous because for years he gave free loaves of bread from his old van in the streets of National City. He stopped charity work after health officials prohibited him from continuing handing out food from his van.

Agustín Lugo is no longer able to pass out free food to the poor. File Photo.

But something that he has continued and will continue to do is to go to some of the poorest colonias in Tijuana to give clothes, food, and toys, to the neediest people in the city.

In November he re-released a CD with a collection of spoken poetry he wrote and recorded in 1978. The funds he raises from the sales of the CD will be used to buy food and toys for the weeks before Christmas and take the items and donations to Colonia Murua, one of the poorest areas in Tijuana.

“Before I used to go three times a week and take food and clothes to the poor, but then I started to receive less donations, so I was crossing just once a week. Now it is so bad that I only cross once a month. That’s why I’m raising funds through the sales of my CD of poetry, so that many families, especially the children, can have a happy and fulfilling Christmas this year,” said Don Agustín, who invited people to, in addition to donating, go to Tijuana with him and spend time with the families who will receive the help.

The CD contains 11 poems from the inspiration of Don Agustin. The poems are diverse, some are about God, others about family, but all of them talk about love.

He said he originally recorded the album in a small Tijuana studio in 1978. He said he accepts any donations for his CD, and that all of the profits will go directly to helping the poor in Tijuana’s Colonia Murua.

In addition to clothes, food, and toys, he said that the children of the colonia always ask him for school supplies.

“Pencils, notebooks, pens, crayons: they value those items a lot. It’s difficult for their parents to buy these for them, they need them for school work,” said Don Agustín, who has been featured in Univision and Telemundo. “They really appreciate what I’m able to give them.”

And with the violence increasing in Tijuana, Don Agustín said he’s not afraid of crossing the border to visit the poorest colonias. In almost 40 years of doing charity work in both sides of the border, he said he’s never had problems in Tijuana.

“I just have faith that God will take care of me and protect me,” he said.

Don Agustín said that maybe his charity work will serve as example to others to follow.

“I hope that more people start helping their communities. There’s a lot of hunger out there, and many times a lot of food goes to waste. That food could’ve fed hundreds of children and their families. It shouldn’t go to waste,” he said.

Don Agustín also said that with prayer and good work and the faith of the Mexican people, Tijuana will be able to overcome the violence.

“Because the people of Mexico is one of the most beautiful and good people of the world,” said the Puerto Rico native. “I’m sure that with the help of God the families of Mexico will move forward and the violence will stop.”

If you would like to make a donation or to buy a copy of Don Agustín Lugo’s collection of spoken poetry, please call him at (619) 477-0214 or (619) 274-7407.

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