Submitted by Sharon Bargel
For the third year, Paradise Park RV Resort in Harlingen has been overwhelmingly generous in giving to the Harlingen CISD’s Clothing Closet, operated as part of the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) program to assist school district families in need.
In winter 2020 the Clothing Closet was selected to be the beneficiary of the park’s spirit of giving holiday project when resident Sharon Bargel heard about the Clothing Closet and their need for warm coats and cold weather clothing on a local news station. That year, despite COVID restraints and fewer Winter Texans, they delivered 578 items of new clothing and new shoes to the Closet.
In 2021, Sharon Bargel and Jan Walter co-chaired the project, and 1,259 new items were delivered to the Closet. When the delivery was made in January 2022, they learned that the Closet had no socks or undergarments on hand, so the items were very much needed. They also learned that underwear and socks are always needed, as well as personal hygiene products especially shampoo, deodorant, bath soap, etc. The decision to make this a year-round Paradise Park Community Project was made, and Dee Rigdon came on board as co-chair with Sharon (both are year-round residents). Totes were placed in the Activities Office, and in the driveways of Sharon and Dee to collect items. Cash donations are used to purchase items on the “most needed” list.
Throughout 2022 the acceptance of donated new and “gently used” clothing and shoes and personal hygiene items continued, as well as donations of cash to purchase needed items. Over 1,000 items were donated between February and November 2022.
Mid-November 2022 the Holiday Project kicked into high gear again, with posters and social media announcements informing residents what was most needed for the Closet: new shoes for big and little kids, hygiene products (toilet paper, bar soap, liquid hand soap, toothbrushes), and gift cards, as well as underwear, socks, and cold weather clothing. The donations started coming in and accumulating.
In December, just before the holiday cold snap, an early delivery of warm coats, jackets, and other cold weather items was delivered to help FACE staff meet urgent needs. On January 10th the balance of items was delivered – an amazing 1,300-plus items!
It is so heart-warming to know that we are making a big difference in the lives of so many families and children. F.A.C.E. staff are very appreciative of the giving hearts of Paradise Park residents. The residents of Paradise Park will continue to support the needs of the Clothing Closet year-round, and donations of items or cash are always welcome.
Six residents of Paradise Park currently volunteer one afternoon a week at the Clothing Closet; organizing racks of clothing, sorting, marking sizes, whatever is needed. We see first-hand what the needs are and how important our support of the Closet is, as well as witnessing the importance of having this resource available to the HCISD families. We feel blessed to be able to help make a difference.
In addition to the other donations on January 10th, April Vallejo, Park Manager of Paradise Park RV Resort presented a check for $500 to the Harlingen CISD Clothing Closet from Encore Corporation (parent company of Paradise Park) through their Making a Difference program. Another blessing!
For all of us involved in this community project, our hearts are full of emotions to be able to help those less fortunate and in need. Giving fills our hearts and gives us a sense of purpose.