Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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20181219 Alamo Chamber Toy Drive Moering RoyalPalms 1094It’s going to be a bit merrier this Christmas for a lot of elementary school children in Alamo thanks to a community effort organized by the Alamo Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center.

This annual toy drive event draws in Winter Texans from several parks, local businesses and some City of Alamo departments, according to Ana Cano, chamber office manager. Hundreds of toys are being gathered for distribution to six local elementary schools, Zeferino Farias, Santos Livas, Maria R. Garza, John McKeever, Captain D. Salinas and Augusto Guerra Elementary schools.

One of the major donors for a number of years is Winter Ranch Ministries members. Once again, they provided a $700 check to allow chamber officials to purchase toys. Sue Hobson, chairperson of the church at the park, presented the latest check for the shopping spree to benefit the children.

“Our church has a “Good Samaritan” fund,” she said, “And 100 percent of those donated funds go back into the community.”

20181219 Alamo Chamber Toy Drive Moering Alamo Rec Veh 1104Hobson, originally from Iowa and at Winter Ranch for five seasons, said the church of some 200 plus members in their park is very giving. The toy drive is just one part of that. Members last week took 300 Christmas stockings stuffed with candy, crayons, pencils, hygiene items, a toy and a stuffed animal to the Arise organization in Alamo, which works with migrant families in a variety of ways. She added, one woman had knitted 300 hats that were also included.

Other parks involved in gathering toys for Alamo school kids include Royal Palms Mobile Home Park, which has been doing it since the drives began 10 years ago. Carrol Moering, who originated the toy drive as chamber manager at the time, has promoted it each year in her own park.

“The community here at Royal Palms has considered it a privilege to participate in this program and plan to continue in the years to come,” Moering said. “We hope our part will bless some needy kids this year.”

Alamo Rec-Veh Park is another group that has been involved in the drive since its inception a decade ago. Winter Texans remain a major contributor to the park’s drives, providing a lot of toys over the years. Activity Director Linda Miller pushes the toy drive, announcing it at the weekly meetings of the tenants and carrying it in the park’s weekly newsletter. They have had two large boxes in the recreation hall for placing toys. The past couple of years, Winter Texan Jack Ahler has used the wood shop to make at least two dozen small wooden cars and trucks.

Among the businesses participating is Gallego & Trevino Bookkeeping and Tax Service. The firm has a box in their lobby with employees bringing in toys and other items. Many of the toys in the past three years are provided by owner Molly Gallego, who loves to see “the smiles of the children when they receive a little gift.” She added, “We try to help as much as we can.”

20181219 Alamo Chamber Toy Drive Moering CityStaff 1102Boxes for toys were at other businesses including Advance America, Alamo Fitness Center, and Farmers Insurance. In addition, there were drop-off locations at the Alamo Police and Fire Departments and the Sergeant Fernando Memorial Library.

This season marked the third year for all Alamo city hall employees to purchase toys for children, according to Melissa Gonzalez, staff grant writer. She said she sends out a memo to all the staff about the toy drive and they respond generously. That’s in addition to city hall being a drop-off location for donations.

The drive effort was summed up by Moering, who said, “Sometimes it takes a community working together to not only raise our children to be good citizens, but to try and embrace all of them with a little touch of love, especially at Christmas time.”

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