Sunday, December 16, 2018
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20181121 Trophy Gardens Caring 5328When the 9-year-old girl was told that the bicycle she was looking at now belonged to her, it didn’t register at first. But then the message became clear, the first tear of disbelief and joy appeared as she cried. It seems that people who come in touch with those at Trophy Gardens oftentimes have similar reactions of joy.

“She never dreamed she would have a bicycle,” said Janice Tepp of Trophy Gardens RV Resort in Alamo. “We always tend to think every boy has a bike or a ball and every girl has a bike or a doll. That’s not always the case.”

With the holiday season here, Trophy Gardens is one of many Winter Texan resorts that are have a caring tradition of giving; they even have a group called Caring For Others, an outreach program at the park. Giving is a year-round event for those at this resort, and it gets ramped up as holiday time approaches, from blankets to food to toys and quillows, someone’s day is getting brighter on a regular basis, thanks to the residents at Trophy Gardens.

“There are so many people who are all about giving and helping out,” said Gwen Hermann, who is president of CFO. “It seems like that what this park was made for, giving back to others in need.

COMFORT BEARS

In storage on this day are 200 or more stuffed Teddy bears and a forest of other stuffed animals. They wait for their day to be adopted by a child in need. They come from park residents, friends, and community members from all over Alamo and the surrounding area.

Pastor Darrel Hardy of Northwest, Okla., known as the Cowboy Pastor, has been initiating the call for people to donate Teddy bears. The park will deliver these bears (and butterflies and unicorns) right before Christmas to the local police and fire departments and other organizations that help victims of domestic violence.

Many a Teddy bear has listened to the fears and hopes of the young; they are always there for a hug and for a child to wrap his or her arms around and feel comfort as they fall asleep.

“The first year we did this, we had 700 Teddy bears. The police aren’t bad; the firemen aren’t bad and the ones who help those from domestic situations aren’t bad,” said Hardy, who has been in the Valley and pasturing here for 18 years. “A child – even a parent – can find comfort in a Teddy bear. Sometimes they need someone or something to confide in, to hold, to feel good about.”

FOOD AND TOYS FOR EVERYONE

20181121 Trophy Gardens Caring 5329This day marked the official beginning of being super busy for the holidays for Tepp, who coordinates the Thanksgiving and Christmas programs for Trophy Gardens.

“It started today – this morning actually at 8 a.m. We went out and bought $1,000 worth of food and will deliver meals to 100 families, right to their house,” she said. “It’s mostly seniors who can’t get out. We have a group of people in Edinburg who does the cooking and these will be delivered right on Thanksgiving.”

The park doesn’t stop there however. The day before Thanksgiving, the park hosts a sit-down dinner for as many as 250 children at the community center in Alamo.

Tepp, an Illinois resident, was also excited because someone was mailing a box of toys, scheduled for delivery on this day. The toys will be given away and children “who come with a lot of grandmas that day,” will also be able to enjoy a hot meal. Tepp said that that after a lot of research, that the kids’ favorite food is spaghetti – and that’s what they’ll be fed. “They absolutely love it,” she said. “They love it more than the toys.” The Christmas dinner will be held Dec. 21.

Tepp said that the park is accepting toy donations. People can bring an unwrapped new toy to the park office during regular business hours, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The park is located at 800 State Highway 495 in Alamo.

BLANKETS, QUILLOWS AND MORE

Quillows are all the rage right now. A quillow is a combination pillow and blanket (or quilt) all packed up nicely into one little bundle. At Trophy Gardens, quillows are given to park veterans.

“People usually donate the money for the fabric and we start on it,” said Gayle Steinbeck, former activity director for the park. “It’s a way to give back to the people in our park. Trophy Gardens is all about giving.”

The time to make a quillow has been drastically cut from dozens of hours to a half day since the park purchased a long arm quilting machine, which sews together a quilt top, quilt batting and quilt backing into a finished quilt (or quillow).

“The activity office does various fundraisers throughout the year,” Steinbeck said. “We try to fund all the activities – we’ve built the pool hall, we take care of the shuffleboard courts, we used money to remodel the kitchen and even enlarged the stage.”

Steinbeck said she was pleasantly surprised at how many residents took part in sewing or knitting and the group thought it was time to give back to those who spent so many hours making blankets, wall hangings, clothing and more.

20181121 Trophy Gardens Caring 5333“One lady brought a quilt top here that her mom had embroidered,” Steinbeck said. “We finished and bound it. She cried when I gave her that quilt and the first thing she said was ‘I wish my sister was living still so she could see this.’ Just because we have this machine, we can do this – it touches so many people.”

TEARS OF JOY

Not every story of giving at Trophy Gardens ends with tears of joy, but the joy is expressed in other ways of appreciation – and sharing.

The park had four bicycles donated to CFO for Christmas last year. Volunteers did their best to clean them and make them look as good as new.

The one that a little 11-year-old boy received as a gift wasn’t shiny, but it was in very good condition. The boy didn’t tear up when receiving his gift – but he got on the phone immediately.

“He called all his cousins and friends,” Tepp said. “‘Come up here! We’ve got a bike and we’ll share it and ride everywhere. But it’s gonna stay in my bedroom when you come to the house, but you can clean it.

“This is going to be awesome.”

And, for once, not a tear was shed – but there still was plenty of joy.

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