Submitted by Margaret Bergen
The community of Eastgate RV & MH Park, 2801 Harrison Ave. in Harlingen, collected 55 bags of food for Child Protective Services and the Food Pantry in 24 days using a Reverse Advent Calendar.
Tears of happiness and joy were shed as CPS Program Director Joanna Garcia, Adela Gonzalez (Case worker), Edgar Quintanilla, Yesenia Guerrero and staff, came to pick up their bags. Pastor Hector Perez, the pastor of The Fathers House on Morgan Blvd. in Harlingen, also arrived to give a beautiful blessing for the food as we all gathered around. His parish also donated mittens, gloves, and hats. A resident, Steve Fawley, made and gave a number of blankets. Another resident, Terry Romanchuk, made little ornaments from paracord.
The Christmas Spirit of giving was dancing in the air as everyone carried bags weighing an average of 26 lbs. outside to the four cars. Soon almost 1,500 lbs. of food would all be delivered to so many deserving and needy families. They would have food for Christmas. So how did this all begin?
Last summer, Paula and Dean Granger, residents of Michigan, also Winter Texans, saw a post on Facebook of the Reverse Advent Calendar. Each day was assigned a food item that a person would purchase and put in a bag for giving. At the end of 24 days, one would have a large variety of food items for several meals. Paula along with Nancy Banks put the project into motion. Paula contacted Adela Gonzalez of Child Protective Services.
They hoped for 20 bags.... But it kept growing. It outgrew Paula's bedroom and into Nancy's bedroom.... Then her living room. The generosity of the Eastgate residents brought them to tears.
There was not only an outpouring of food, but also money. Many bought more than one bag. All the money collected was spent to fill out bags and make more. When all was done, they had made 55 bags filled with almost $30 of food weighing 26 lbs. The cost of food given was totaled around $1,650. Another anonymous resident bought a small, canned ham for each bag. Some of their stories brought more tears to their eyes.
The day before, 11 bags were delivered by Paula, Nancy and Cindy England, the representative of the Food Pantry, also an Eastgate resident. Eleven homeless families had just received their first homes. One had just moved from a tent to a room that he was able to rent for $50. As they approached another family, the little boy took the blanket and was so happy and wrapped the blanket around himself. That family had no heat.
At the food pantry they met another family. Mom and Dad and two small children. They had fled their homeland of Ukraine because of the war. Somehow, they had made it to the United States. They were connected to a wonderful lady from Raymondville who offered them a house to live in and make it their home. They could not speak English but were able to communicate through a language app on their phone.
So many wonderful stories of sadness but also love, giving and sharing during this Christmas Season.
Eastgate, You Rock! Your generosity has touched so many lives this Christmas season!