United Way of South Texas and AIM Media Texas are set to kick off their annual Spirit of Christmas campaign. This will be the third year that United Way has partnered with The Monitor to feature stories of families in need as the holidays draw near.
“The purpose of this program is to help some of our families in the community that are struggling,” United Way of South Texas President Lilly Lopez- Killelea said. “They may have some medical bills. Right now they may be displaced because they lost their job during the pandemic. They’re just struggling to be able to provide basic needs for their families.”
United Way selected 20 families for this year’s campaign. Lopez-Killelea said that 10 of them were adopted by businesses that will be making donations. The others will be receiving a series of monetary distributions from donations made by the community. United Way worked with school districts and nonprofits to help identify families that they felt were in need of financial assistance. Lopez-Killelea said they are trying to provide some hope for those families in need. They want to make a positive impact not only for the holidays, but for the future as well.
Lopez-Killelea said the campaign is about more than just providing some small amenities. She referenced one particular family in which a woman had a small, home-based business where she prepares food in order to make ends meet. Unfortunately, she is struggling because she does not have all the proper tools to prepare the food. Fortunately, her family was adopted by a company that was able to donate a new set of pans.
“I know she’s going to be so excited,” Lopez-Killelea said. “These are things that we take for granted. This is going to make a big difference for her, but we’re hoping to provide a lasting, long term support for the families that will help turn their situation around.”
By the time the last Spirit of Christmas story was publish in The Monitor last year, $18,000 had been raised for the featured families. Lopez-Killelea said donations continued to come in, raising the total to approximately $24,000. in 2019, the campaign raised $17,329.
Lopez-Killelea said there will be two distributions made to the families. One distribution will take place this month around the last day of school before the Christmas break. Monetary donations received after that will be part of a secondary distribution made at the end of January.
“We’re trying to do what we can,” Lopez-Killelea said. “I know right now we’re at nine families, so it really depends on what the community’s response is. We’re hoping to raise at least $28,000 this year.” Lopez-Killelea said that last year’s families received an average of $2,000 each. Like last year’s campaign, United Way will only be accepting monetary donations for the featured families due to COVID-19.