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Spanish Moms Raise School Funds With Pinup Calendar

"Ms. October" is one of several moms who posed for a calendar to raise funds for school bus service in their Spanish town. The page reads, "No to the budget cuts!" (Lauren Frayer for NPR)

Spain's economic woes have forced municipalities across the nation to cut back on all kinds of basic services. In the small town of Montserrat, 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean, not even the school bus was spared.

To restore service, neighborhood mothers came up with a rather racy idea to raise money: They transformed themselves into calendar girls.

Nestled among orange groves, Montserrat lies just down a busy highway from Valencia, the regional capital. It's the same highway where Eva Maria Casas Sancho's children walked almost three miles to and from elementary school each day when the bus service was cut.

"There's no sidewalk and there are lots of trucks going fast," Sancho says. "It's one of the main roads. The truth is, it's pretty dangerous for kids to be walking there."

So Sancho and some other unemployed moms decided to raise the funds for a school bus by posing nearly nude for a calendar.

"It started as a joke, but then we realized it might just be the most effective way to raise money for our kids' transportation," Sancho says.

Sancho, a 41-year-old mother of three, is Ms. June.

"At first it was really embarrassing," Sancho says. "One of my photos was taken outside at the bus stop near my house — in November! It was so cold, and I was naked in the street, with my neighbors gawking."

But it worked. The pinup moms have raised $12,000 selling the calendars — enough to rehire the school bus through spring. They even sold copies to regional politicians who decided to cut the school bus service in the first place.

"It's like a noose around our necks, these budget cuts," says Jose Maria Mas Garcia, the Socialist mayor of Montserrat. "We're forced to pay interest on debt rather than help our citizens."

Valencia had Spain's biggest real estate bubble — and is now the country's most indebted province. Montserrat's bars are packed with laid-off construction workers.

And out of about 7,000 residents, a certain 12 women are the talk of the town.

"What do we pay taxes for?" one man yells. "Our women shouldn't have to do this."

But his friend disagrees. "I think it's a great idea," he says. "Where can I buy one? It's the least we can do — to support them, of course."

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Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Europe's economic problems have forced a lot of people to think creatively about money. The hardship is especially acute in Spain. Some municipalities have had to cut back on basic services. In one small town, the government even cut the local school bus. But neighborhood mothers came up with a kind of racy idea to raise some money and get that school bus back. Lauren Frayer reports from a suburb of Valencia, where soccer moms have become calendar girls.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Nestled in orange groves, the village of Montserrat lies about 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean down a busy highway from the regional capitol, Valencia. This same highway is where Eva Sancho's children had to walk almost three miles to and from elementary school each day after the town's school bus service was cut to save money.

EVO SANCHO: (Through Translator) There are no sidewalks, there are a lot of trucks going fast. It's one of the main roads. Truth is, it's pretty dangerous for kids to be walking there.

FRAYER: Sancho and other unemployed moms came up with a plan to pose nearly nude to raise money for a school bus.

SANCHO: (Through Translator) It started as a joke but then we realized it just might be the most effective way to raise money for our kids' transportation.

FRAYER: So they made a calendar. Sancho, a 41-year-old mother of three, is Miss June.

SANCHO: (Through Translator) One of my photos was taken outside the bus stop near my house in November. It was so cold and I was naked in the streets with my neighbors gawking.

FRAYER: But it worked. From selling calendars, the pinup moms have raised $12,000, enough to rehire the school bus through spring. They even sold copies to regional politicians who decided to cut their school bus service in the first place. Jose Maria Mas i Garcia is the socialist mayor of Montserrat.

JOSE MARIA MAS I GARCIA: (Through Translator) It's like a noose around our necks, these budget cuts. We're forced to pay interest on debt rather than help our citizens.

FRAYER: Valencia had Spain's biggest real estate bubble and is now the country's most indebted province. Montserrat's bars are packed with laid-off construction workers. Out of about 7000 residents, a certain 12 women are the talk of the town.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

FRAYER: What do we pay taxes for, one man yells. Our women shouldn't have to do this.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

FRAYER: I think it's a great idea, his friend says. Where can I buy one? It's the least we can do to support them, of course.

For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Valencia, Spain.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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