We create happy childhood memories in the lives of children abroad and in our local communities. We do this by cultural exchange and storytelling. Our main program in the yearly exchange of children’s costumes. The idea was born in 2009 out of personal experience from our founder’s Mayra Betances own childhood memories. Mayra was struck suddenly as she recalls her moment of epiphany while standing outside of her oldest son’s Halloween parade in the school yard. She tells that in the split of a second she ask herself “what happens to all these costumes once Halloween is over?” It was there that she quickly planned to ask parents for their children used costumes so that she can send to her native land and donate to children who cannot afford to buy one. In her native land the Dominican Republic, it is tradition to wear a costume for the country’s carnival and Independence Day festivities which take place every February. Mayra recalls making her own costumes to use for such festive times. Mayra’s family could not afford to buy a costume from a store and back in her childhood years they barely had electricity for a couple of hours a day so there was no much to see on TV or else. She tells her story with pride and joy. She wanted to bring these costumes to little boys and girls like her at the time who could not afford one with the help of many people who supported and believed in her, things just rolled out like a snowball.
The first year we collected a total of 176 costumes. Every year the number of costumes has grown and the response to the cause has gained emotional wealth to all those who engage and participate. During 2013 through 2014 the project was on paused due to health and family commitment but in 2015 Mayra Betances; Founder and President of the now federally recognized 501(c)3 organization gathered up a team and decided to make this project her life purpose and raised another 248 costumes to donate to underprivileged children in her native Caribbean island the Dominican Republic.
In 2016 the project raised a total of 848 costumes with the contributions of the Hilliard City Schools, New Albany Schools, Lodi NJ Schools, private donors and many community leaders who devoted time and trust into this amazing cause. A total of 1,272 children have received costumes through this project and a total of 2,544 children have been served by this cultural exchange. In it’s most recent cycle a total equal to its previous year was collected showing a steady stream coming through each year.
About our Founder
Mayra Betances is the fourth of 7 children who immigrated with both of their parents Felicia and Yldebrando Betances from the Dominican Republic to the state of New Jersey in April of 1992 when she was 12 years old. Her Hispanic heritage and Dominican roots are prides she holds dearly to her heart. Mayra likes to refer to herself as a women first, a single mother of 3 children (Luis, Deogo and Ella), a Latina and a community activist.
When Mayra was a little girl she recalls her childhood memories as amazing, whimsical times with some of the most thrilling and mesmerizing episodes of her life.
Mayra enjoys writing, dancing and paper craft. Her favorite thing to do is laughing out loud, time out with family and friends, shopping for vintage stuff and anything soul inspiring catches her full attention. In 2016 Mayra became a published author with her contribution to the book Today’s Inspired Latina Vol II.
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Mayra’s passion and spirit for the arts is instilled in her through her upbringing, as a little girl Mayra would create miniature figures out of soil mud from her neighborhood streets (El Capotillo, Santo Domingo R.D.) She would in turn sell her craft to neighbors or simply made them her toys. Paper crafting also started as a young girl by making her own paper dolls but started crafting professionally in 2004. In 2010 she open an online shop that she named after her two young children D&E Papel where she provided a range of stationery services in Spanish & English, focusing in unique handmade invitations. Mayra wears many hats; one of her favorite quotes is “she who defines herself limits herself” Mayra is the Chapter leader for a women in business networking group in Columbus Ohio, she also volunteers in multiple nonprofit committees and is a huge supporter of women and children leading the way through getting involved in their communities. Since realizing her life’s purpose was to create something that would make positive and joyful memories in someone else’s life, Mayra has put her paper craft back to hobby status and is now fully devoted to the amazing project of Create Happy Moments.
Mayra wants to become “a sort of cultural broker” as she said; she wants to cross racial and cultural barriers with a simple, revolutionary and fascinating idea; by creating happy moments with what we all already have!
Meet our Board of Directors
President: Mayra Betances
Treasurer: Chris Mickley
Secretary: Robertha Fersan
International Event Coordinator: Corina De Jesus
International Logistics Coordinator: Eliana De Jesus