CSI: Vegas actress sponsors fundraiser for RGV’s Spirit of Christmas families

Ariana Guerra is a 2012 graduate of McAllen High School and plays Detective Serena Chavez in CSI: Vegas. (Courtesy Photo)

After reading The Monitor’s Spirit of Christmas series, McAllen native and actress Ariana Guerra reached out to United Way to see how she could help families in her hometown.

Ariana Guerra, of CSI: Vegas will be hosting a Christmas Acts of Kindness Donation Drive to assist these families in need this holiday season.

The drive will be held Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the University Draft House, located at 100 West U.S. Highway 83 in McAllen. They will be accepting toys, clothes, and monetary donations that will go to six families from Edinburg and four from the Spirit of Christmas campaign, which was organized by United Way of South Texas in partnership with The Monitor.

In attempts to help those in her community, Guerra reached out to her father, a local fireman who helped her get in touch with an IDEA Public Schools bus driver. With the bus driver’s assistance, Guerra got in touch with the assistant principal who helped identify six families in need.

She then got in contact with Velma Garcia of United Way of South Texas to connect her with the Spirit of Christmas families who were not receiving as much funding as others.

“We’re simply collecting the clothes, the toys, the donations and then we’ll be making customized boxes to fit the families who haven’t received as much as other ones that have been promoted in The Monitor,” Guerra said.

She’s no stranger to generosity, coming from a family that’s accustomed to giving. Her parents are both public servants — her mother is a teacher — and she recalls them taking her to underserved areas to help.

“When I was younger we actually would hand out toys in the colonias, and being of service has always just kind of in my family been a really important pillar of who we are,” Guerra said, explaining she feels a sense of belonging and ownership of the Valley for the experiences in her hometown that helped shape her.

“It’s a social responsibility to be of service and to help,” she added. “Giving back to my community is probably one of the most important things to me.”

Although her parents didn’t have a lot of money growing up, Guerra said they always provided her with “enough,” and that is exactly what she said she wants to do for these families.

To help raise money for these families, you can donate monetarily via a GoFundMe that’s been set up at https://gofund.me/23a7d77a. People can also bring donations to the event Sunday.