“We’re chairpersons of the Toy Project,” stated Gloria Smith, speaking for her husband, Richard. “The toys will be going to the Centro Cristiano Familiar Church. It’s a church with two big colonias near them.”
Richard and Gloria take the Valley home with them in their hearts. They remember what’s needed down here and collect items all summer to bring back when they come “home” to the Valley.
“One day we had a whole bunch of stuff we’d brought down here – clothes, toys, shoes, pots and pans and were bringing them to a lady in Peñitas. We couldn’t find her but we did find this church that was having a yard sale. When we stopped to ask for help, the pastor of the church said, ‘I don’t know if you’re set on where you’re going to bring this stuff, but we could really use it here because we are trying to help these two colonias,’” Gloria said.
Unloading their supplies was only the first act they would do to help Pastores Maricela and Rafael Hernandez as they worked to help the colonias. Getting their park involved was another way they could do good things for Centro Cristiano Familiar Church.
For Christmas they held a toy drive collecting all manner of toys. But then Georgina Mettler, a self-proclaimed “instigator of things,” went to the church with the Smiths during a passing of the gifts.
“They start with the kids in the front and work their way to the back. All the kids come out of the toy room with toys, dolls or something else. I watched these two little girls with their big brown eyes wide open, chin on their hands, long, brown curly hair. When it came their turn they went up and got two little sacks. I didn’t see any dolls at all!” she said, reliving the moment.
Coming back to the park she was telling the story to another park resident, Thora Rhoades, and her sadness at the disappointment of the two little girls shone through her words. It just so happened that Thora, unbeknownst to Georgina, had taught doll making for years.
“Georgina,” Thora said vehemently. “No little girl should ever be without a doll! We’ve got to fix this!”
Gathering a team with Georgina, Thora, Carolyn Wentzloff who sewed the clothes, and Shirley Borgerson, they began making their dolls. With their Bible study group helping to assemble the dolls, they brought their new creations to life.
Along with the toys, there were be 30 dolls to bring to the church this Christmastime.
For another group, it was all about food.
Norma Westhuis, a reader for the children at Flores Elementary School, has been heading up the food for the school for the last six years, but the drive had been going on before she came along. This year they’ll have 25 boxes that will go to 25 families.
None of the people of the park seem to want to claim fame for their work.
“It’s the people here in the park that are contributing,” Norma said, humbly. These are the words heard across the Valley. The gift this season is the compassion our Winter Texans have for those in need in the Valley. Thank you to all.