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The annual Ash Wednesday enchilada sale at St. Mary's Catholic Church raises money for the youth group to travel to mission trip in Guatemala. Farmington Daily Times

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FARMINGTON – You could smell the cheese and chiles outside of St. Mary’s Parish Center in Farmington on Feb. 26, as inside the building dozens of volunteers prepared stacks of tortillas, stirred vats of sauce and hand rolled mountains of enchiladas for the St. Mary’s Youth Group’s annual cheese enchilada takeout fundraiser.

Youth director Norm Georgina said the fundraiser started 21 years ago when he was looking for a way to raise money to send young church members to World Youth Day, an international gathering of Catholic youths held in different locations around the world every year.

“So we came up with the idea to do cheese enchiladas on Ash Wednesday, and it’s just taken off since then,” Georgina said.

Using 640 pounds of cheese, 12,000 tortillas and 300 gallons of homemade chile sauce, all of which were donated, Georgina expected to make around $8,000 to $12,000 at the end of the all-day fundraiser, which Georgina said would be enough, along with money made at the church’s other fundraisers throughout the year, to send about 20 church youths to Antigua, Guatemala, where they’ll help renovate a school.

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“The food is outstanding,” said Roberta DeField who picked up a box of enchiladas right before the lunch rush. “There’s not a better fundraiser to make my belly happy and to give them [the Youth Group] a boost.”

"The community has been very supportive," said Georgina, "and it's really good chile."

Sam Ribakoff is a visual journalist for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 or via email at sribakoff@daily-times.com.

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