HARLINGEN — Blessings for all.

That’s what drives Dora Conner to keep giving all she can to the kids at the LeMoyne Gardens Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen.

“I wanted to bless the kids, and I didn’t want to bless just a few kids,” said Conner, 69, who has become a familiar face around the club since her retirement from Veterans Affairs.

So joyous was the opportunity for her that she invited family and friends to participate, which they did unconditionally.

“A lot of them started giving me clothes and school supplies, toys and some food and just all kinds of items,” said Conner. “It just grew. People still call me and bring me clothes or whatever, so I am able to bless a lot of people.”

One of Conner’s regular donations of her time comes in the form of spaghetti and meatballs. She can often be seen bringing in cookware and food stuffs surrounded by excited and hungry kids.

That’s her latest one-hit wonder.

She started off several years ago doing some work with the kids while still employed at the VA.

“I started out teaching them sewing,” she said. “One year we did Christmas stockings. I’d take my material because I sew.”

She first became involved with the kids through her friendship with Hilda Gathright, unit director at LeMoyne. She couldn’t give as much of her time then as she wanted to because she had a full-time job.

But she remembers fondly those early days, especially three little grade schoolers who are now either in high school or college.

“I remember our church had something going there at LeMoyne Gardens and I volunteered,” she said. “I’d always had a heart to volunteer there but I never had the time to do it until I retired. I am grateful to my family and friends for their generous contributions that have helped me bless a lot of kids and parents at LeMoyne.”

Even in the time of COVID-19, she’s stepped up, coming in and teaching a couple of kids how to make face masks.

“Those two girls, I taught them how to do masks at the beginning of COVID,” she said. “They were so proud of their masks and I was so proud because they sewed them. We’ve wanted to get together but we really haven’t because of COVID. We want to make other things and continue the sewing.”

Even on the coldest of nights she’s been the go-to person for assistance.

When the winter storm hit earlier this month and knocked out the power at LeMoyne, she gathered up a car full of blankets for some of the kids who’d sought shelter at the Main Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“I just like being around them,” Conner said. “They bring such joy to me, and they are so loving. They just show such joy and love and appreciation.”

[email protected]