Editor’s Note: Last week we shared some of the responses received when we asked the RV resorts and mobile home parks to share with us some of the things their park residents are doing to help the poor and the needy at Christmastime. Following are some more of the heart-warming responses we received.
Thank you, Winter Texans, for caring and reaching out to help others – especially the children.
Alamo Palms Mobile Home & RV Park
By Marilyn Burns
Coordinator for Christmas for the Needy
Christmas for the Needy is an association founded some 25 years ago by the residents of Alamo Palms Mobile Home and RV Park located in Alamo. Our goal is to deliver boxes of food, toys and other items to homes of underprivileged children in the seven Alamo schools.
Collecting donated articles and having a style show, in-park dinners, and annual Christmas program are ways we have raised funds. Residents purchased appropriate gifts for every child. Each family is also given two homemade quilts and baby quilts, if necessary, made by the park ladies.
We had a week of preparations starting out with a Christmas play on Sunday, Dec. 16. For the next three days, over 200 volunteers made ready the 600 labeled boxes for this year’s 63 families.
Watching the hall full of box-covered tables and hardworking, laughing and merry volunteers is a breath-taking sight. It’s astounding how this well thought out project is carried out with precision and love.
Finishing the boxes on Wednesday, a caravan of some 40 plus vehicles divided into seven groups - one for each school - were escorted by the Alamo Police Department, accompanied by a representative from each school to deliver the packages.
It is a very meaningful and emotional time as we know that we have made this a very special Christmas for families in the city we call our WINTER HOME – Alamo!
Casa del Sol Resort gives to Driscoll Children’s Center
By Cheryl Matthews
The residents of Casa del Sol Resort in Donna have been collecting nonperishable goods to go in their boxes headed for Driscoll Children’s Center in McAllen. The boxes were packed up on Dec. 20 filled with food, toys and quilts. The sewing group, headed by Roxie Moen, has been making children's quilts for each box. The Casa residents are hoping to surpass the 50 boxes sent out last year. Collecting cans all year as a fundraiser, the money was used to buy the foodstuff for the boxes. Residents also donated food and toys for the project. Driscoll picked up the boxes on December 20 and handed them out to needy families at the center. We would like to give a big thanks to all who helped with this project, especially Dick and Ginny Bidwell, the coordinators of the project.
Magic Valley Park delivers Christmas cheer
By Madge Ferguson
The management, staff and residents of Magic Valley Park have been very busy this season, trying to ensure that Christmas is brighter for some families less fortunate than we are.
Our park has "adopted" a family in need for Christmas. This mom and her 6 kids have very little to be joyous about, but the largess of the residents will make it brighter. Organized by local resident, Kirk Chaisson, we had fun wrapping the gifts collected for the family. A group of us delivered everything on Dec. 19 along with a fresh cut tree and new decorations for their home.
As many Winter Texans do, some of our residents are involved in the Amigos de Los Niños Christmas Parade and festivities in Progresso.
Several of our residents took turns as "Bell Ringers" at Weslaco Walmart. While the two hours of time donated seems insignificant, when we look at all the people giving those two hours for the weeks leading up to Christmas, we can see what power there is in numbers to "get the job done."
This year, as an ongoing project, we will be fundraising to fund several school children in Progreso after the residents were informed the government only funds children to grade 6. After that it costs about $169 annually for a child to attend primary school. If fundraising efforts meet what we raised for anti-poverty work last year, we should be able to fund 5 or 6 children.
McAllen Mobile Park enjoy caring and sharing
By Elayne Nelson
The residents of McAllen Mobile Park enjoy several projects of Caring and Sharing in the Valley during the December holiday season. The women’s sewing group has been busy, and this month will distribute lap robes, bed covers, stocking caps and slippers to Women Together/Mujeres Unidas, the Salvation Army and a nursing home.
Another project has been two toy collections. Bags of toys were donated to help give a Merry Christmas to the 47 children at the Children’s Haven International. Other boxes of stuffed animals were donated to the 225 children that attended the orthopedic clinic that was help at the RGV Shrine Club in La Feria. Also there are over 70 park residents that are volunteer bell ringers for the Salvation Army. The park volunteers began bell ringing the day after Thanksgiving and will continue until Christmas Eve, ringing at the Walmart on the corner of McColl and Trenton six days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
As Christmas approached, the residents of Palm Shadows RV Park in Donna, were busy preparing for those less fortunate than they. Among the many charitable activities we sponsor, perhaps the most rewarding project we do is the Donna Christmas Project.
This project started many years ago as we put boxes in the lobby to collect toys and food for the children of the Donna Housing Authority. One year, some of the residents planned a Christmas Party for those children and went to hand out the gifts. What a moving experience that was. The happiness and appreciation were overwhelming.
The following year, we started adopting families through The Donna Housing Authority. We bought gifts, wrapped them and delivered them to the families. It was such a joy to see the children as they received gifts and food that they so vitally needed and much appreciated.
The project continued to grow, and now each year the park adopts families in Donna to help make their Christmas a little brighter. This year we have adopted five families totaling 27 family members.
We make a Christmas tree for the park and as decorations, we put each family member’s name on a tag with their age, etc. on it. Residents can then draw a name from the tree in order to buy gifts. Children are of special interest, as many of us are here in the Valley instead of up North with our children and grandchildren. It is such a joy to shop for them. Those who like to shop, buy and wrap the gifts, and others donate money.
This year, our Red Hatters Group voted to share in this Christmas Project as opposed to the gift exchange they usually do at their annual Christmas Dinner.
The Palm Shadows Worship Service also helps sponsor this Christmas project, making it a park-wide project that is still growing.
It is amazing to realize that with a little effort from each of us we can make such a big difference in the lives of others and no one can spell it out any better than Joanne Austin, who oversees this project for our park each season.
“I am so proud of the residents who open their hearts and their pocketbooks to help out families less fortunate than ourselves. By the time we head out to visit our five families before Christmas we will have put together large gift boxes for each family containing two gifts per child (one educational and one toy), one gift each for Mom and Dad; two quilts made by our Tuesday morning quilt group, Christmas candy and cookies, and food gift certificates from H-E-B to support their Christmas celebrations. As we return to the park, we ladies certainly count our blessings and enjoy warm and fuzzy feelings, thanks to the excitement and appreciation of the children and their families. What better way to celebrate Christmas?”
Tropic Star gives to Pharr
Dressed in their favorite Christmas colors, the Tropic Star RV and MH Resort fellowship hall was full of women of the park, laughing, happily anticipating what was to come – food, fellowship and a fashion show. For the fifth year, the ladies have come together to ensure children in need in Pharr will have a Christmas.
“The ladies are asked to bring a stuffed animal and/or an unwrapped gift to be donated to the City of Pharr Police and Fire Departments. They use them in their Blue Santa Toy Drive where they visit abused and neglected children in their homes or the hospital. They bring a smile to the children,” said an emotional Janet Ashcraft, activity director.
“We have about 220 ladies here from the park that have all brought gifts, some of them bringing two gifts apiece. It’s hard to say what the total of gifts is at this point,” she said. “It gives everyone so much joy to be able to be part of this event. We’re so blessed here. The people of the park do so much.”
Lunch was served by volunteer men from the park dressed in their tuxedo t-shirts, an added touch of class and fun to the event.
Winter Ranch RV Resort
By Lynn & JD Murray
Winter Ranch residents were busy again this year getting ready for Christmas. At this time of year Winter Ranch residents gear up their giving to the community. Each year the resort sponsors an “Angel Tree” coordinated by Diana Mollerus and Patty Ellison. Our residents select a tag from the tree and purchase a gift. On Dec. 19 the gifts were taken to ARISE, where the gifts will be distributed to needy children in the ARISE neighborhood.
Also, our ladies sew stockings and stuff them with toys, candy, hats and mittens purchased by our residents. This year, 233 stockings were taken to ARISE. Our coordinator, Barb Degaramo, asked residents to purchase Ramen noodles too, after hearing 50 percent of the children in the Valley go to bed hungry. Our Winter Ranch Elves stuffed 155 packages of Ramen noodles in the stockings along with the other gifts. Barb said 155 children will have one day of not going hungry.
The Winter Ranch non-denomination church sponsors “Christmas families” each Christmas. Two families were chosen from Alamo Middle School by the Church Board. The residents purchase gifts, based on the children and take them to the families on Dec. 20. Along with the gifts, our “Quilting for the Needy” group donates quilts to the families too.
Some of our residents are ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, coordinated by Karen Hockemeier at the Alamo Walgreens.
Our hearts are warmed by how our residents reach out to the Valley.