Only have a minute? Listen instead
SAN BENITO — The children with their faces animated and joyous spoke excitedly about their holiday fundraiser.
The fundraiser led by 10-year-old Victor Gonzalez III, will raise money to purchase turkeys for families in homes dreary and blue. As we all know, a turkey and dressing and cranberries and mashed potatoes can bring holiday cheer into not-so-cheery lives.
Victor is no stranger to fundraisers. The Ed Downs Fine Arts Academy fourth grader from San Benito has organized fundraisers for several years. With each year he has acquired greater skill, the power of organization and leadership and initiative.
And that talent for leadership and initiative has now inspired other kids and even adults.
He started out doing these fundraisers solo, but last year he enlisted his friends and classmates at Ed Downs to raise money for dog food for the Harlingen Humane Society of Donja’s Dogs. This year about 10 kids have joined him for the fundraiser, “Region One ESC ECI Thanksgiving Food Drive.”
On a Sunday afternoon they gathered at Yo Mama Bubble Tea and Health Bar for pictures in their white T-shirts with images of a turkey in full plumage and a pilgrim’s hat. Their eyes and their smiles and their unfettered energy revealed in full measure their passion for their holiday project.
“I feel bad for others because they don’t really have that much money to buy some turkeys,” said A.J. Hernandez, 10, a fourth grader at Ed Downs.
“We’re going to be getting as much money as we can and we’re going to be donating turkeys,” he said.
The fundraiser Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 aims to raise $2,200 for turkeys, and each child on Victor’s team has a goal of raising $100.
A.J. participated in Victor’s dog food drive, and he’s back this year. He likes this year’s the best.
“I like seeing how it’s going to go,” he said, adding proudly he has already collected “maybe $10.”
It all comes from the parents who lead by example and direction. Victor gave a special nod to his father.
“I learned from my dad that you need to help the community,” he said.
And he expressed now an even greater awareness of teamwork and the importance of that teamwork to the friends who have joined him.
“I feel that they are learning to start helping the community at a young age,” he said.
His parents, Marisela and Victor, have seen the difference these endeavors have had on the younger Victor.
When the youngster decided this year he wanted to raise enough money to purchase 75 turkeys, his mother, Marisela, asked to whom he’d like to receive those turkeys.
“I’d like it for the people you work with,” he answered.
His mother Marisela Gonzalez is an early intervention specialist at the Region One Early Childhood Intervention. She and her colleagues work with children from birth to 3 years old who have special needs. Many of these children come from families with limited financial means, and a special needs child often incurs an even heavier financial burden.
“Our offices are in Edinburg and Brownsville so we’re going to be doing two drives,” Marisela Gonzalez said.
On Nov. 10 the drive will take place in Edinburg at 1900 W. Schunior. The following day the drive will be at 405 E. Levee in Brownsville. The kids will all wear their Thanksgiving Drive shirts.
Parents of the other kids in Victor’s team grasped in full measure the importance of such activities for the children’s lives and futures.
“I love that they are very caring, and that they care about the community,” said Veronica Galvan, mother of A.J. and his brother Adam who has also joined Victor’s team.
“I think it’s great that their friend has been choosing to involve his buddies because it shows them all how to work as a team and it shows them compassion,” she said. “It shows them compassion for other people, and it’s good for them to want to help other people.”
For more information about the drive, call Marisela Gonzalez at (956) 202-5121.