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The original item was published from 12/27/2012 9:54:00 AM to 12/27/2012 12:41:15 PM.

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Posted on: December 26, 2012

[ARCHIVED] Hidalgo County Employees Share Christmas

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COUNTY EMPLOYEES, PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS, SHARE THE GIFT OF CHRISTMAS WITH THOUSANDS OF HIDALGO COUNTY CHILDREN

Edinburg, Texas –Hidalgo County employees were extra generous with their hearts and with their own money this year, more than doubling last year’s contribution, in the County’s third annual employee Christmas toy drive. Over 1,000 toys were donated by cheerful employees, eager to spread the joy of the holiday season with low-income children in Hidalgo County, who might not otherwise receive a gift this Christmas.

The employees not only donated toys, they also brought together multiple partners, individuals and organizations, who were inspired by the employees’ generosity and pledged additional toys, gifts, books, and more. The County’s primary partner, Love Thy Neighbor Service Organization, founded by County employees and which has matched employee toy contributions since the toy drive’s inception, took the lead in mobilizing other interested individuals and organizations to participate in the County employees’ effort. The remarkable outcome of the coordinated efforts yielded more than 6,000 gifts (toys, books, and other free services) to Hidalgo County children and families.

“During this season of giving, we can all do our part to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our community,” Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia commented. “I commend our County employees for their selfless generosity to those families in need,” Garcia continued.

Ultimately, over a dozen entities joined County employees’ efforts for a series of toy distribution events held last week, with two more yet to come. Sponsor partners include:
• Love Thy Neighbor Service Organization, who donated over 1,000 toys;
• The National Hispanic Professional Organization (NHPO), who contributed over 200 toys to Love Thy Neighbor for the County toy drive;
• Edcouch-Elsa ISD school board trustees, who helped match and distribute in Pct. 1 at the largest Head Start site in Edcouch, numbering over 182 children;
• Mr. G Propane, Inc., a private propane distributor sponsored over 200 toys and also gave out free refills of propane gas for the winter to over 100 low income residents in Sullivan City and Weslaco;
• South Texas Literacy Coalition, who donate 2,000 new books, total estimated worth at over $15,000, to promote literacy among low-income families and children across the County;
• The Sullivan City Council, Police Department, Fire Department, and the Sullivan City Citizens’ Committee, who contributed over 1,000 new toys to children of Cuevitas, Los Ebanos, and Sullivan City in Pct. 3;
• State Representative-Elect Oscar Longoria, who donated new bikes at the Pct. 3 distribution and also sponsored 94 gifts for La Joya Head Start children;
• District Judge Ricardo Rodriguez, County Court-at-law Judge Rolando Cantu and the Law Office of Omar Maldonado sponsored several hundred soccer balls for children across the County;
• Judge Rodriguez’s Drug Court participants donated over 150 toys at the program’s Christmas dinner;
• CUSH Foundation, the foundation created in honor of Pct. 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios’ father, the late Nico Palacios, donated toys and gifts for over 500 children in San Carlos and Edinburg in Pct. 4; and
• Joel Garcia from Collision Masters, who graciously committed to donate a car to a family most in need of transportation, as identified by Buckner Children and Family Services.

“When you give someone an opportunity to help others in need, people jump at the chance to make a difference,” remarked Mike Robledo of Love Thy Neighbor, who was responsible for connecting the various individuals and groups with the County employees’ efforts.

Other organizations that contributed in-kind resources in partnership with the above-named sponsors included the Hidalgo County Head Start Program, Texas A&M Colonias Program, the South Texas Promotoras Association, Buckner Children and Family Services, Asociación Liberal Humanitaria, and The Boys and Girls Club of Edinburg.

Recipients were identified by the Hidalgo County Head Start Program, the Texas A&M Colonias Program, the South Texas Promotoras Association, and the Edinburg Boys and Girls Club as children from families most in need of assistance this holiday season. The gifts were distributed with a visit from Santa Claus at seven participating Head Start centers in Precincts 1, 2, and 3; at the San Juan Community Center in Precinct 2; at a public park in Sullivan City in Precinct 3; and in Precinct 4 at the San Carlos Community Center and in conjunction with the Edinburg Boys and Girls Club at the Legacy Center. In addition, the donation of the car was presented as a surprise to the family, who were grateful for the gift.

For photos of the distribution events, visit https://picasaweb.google.com/hidalgocounty. Please credit the Hidalgo County Public Affairs Division.

In addition to the County employees’ efforts, certain departments sponsored their own Christmas donations:
• For the past four years, the County of Hidalgo Urban County Program (UCP) employees, as a group, decided to forego an employee gift exchange to assist families in need. For the past four years UCP, in conjunction with Proyecto Azteca - a non-profit housing organization, has identified and adopted families in need of assistance to provide their families with Christmas gifts. This year, UCP raised more than $800 from staff and more than $200 dollars from local businesses. Also, the UCP has received, from various businesses and generous individuals, more than $700 worth of toys, bikes, food baskets and clothes for four selected families. In addition, UCP learned of a family whose head of household is 18 years of age and who is responsible for his 15-year-old brother. UCP’s assistance to this family was to make their December 2012 mortgage payment; other partners have pledged an additional two more mortgage payments for the family.

• For the past ten years, the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department clinics annually identify approximately twenty client families to sponsor, and during the Christmas season, provide toys, food and blankets to those families. This effort is actually part of a year-long endeavor to provide the families with the assistance they need, including clothes, school supplies, and more.

• The Hidalgo County Clerk’s Office donated 104 gifts for children identified by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Hidalgo County. CASA of Hidalgo County, Inc. speaks for the best interest of the children in the courts by promoting and supporting quality volunteer representation to provide each child a safe, permanent and nurturing home.

• In the spirit of the season, Hidalgo County Community Supervision and Corrections Department held their annual toy drive on Friday, December 21st. Santa and Mrs. Claus brought smiles to about 117 children, where each child received two or more toys from Santa. A total of 56 families were greeted with cake and cookies, included were children of residents in the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility run by the department and children of clients who are struggling financially during these economic times. This ambitious endeavor was made possible through the generosity of the Adult Probation Staff.

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