The Spirit of Christmas campaign, a partnership between The Monitor and United Way of South Texas, is in its second year of getting families in need a little help for the holidays. But while several families have already been featured in the newspaper, there are still thousands in the Rio Grande Valley who could use a hand.

Many in the Valley have found themselves struggling to make ends meet in 2020 in the wake of the devastation brought on by Hurricane Hanna, let alone having to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of contending with financial struggles.

“The Spirit of Christmas is more important now than ever,” United Way Community Investment Specialist Maria Flores said Thursday. “A lot of these families that were selected to be featured in The Monitor have been impacted by COVID-19 and Hurricane Hanna.”

Many of the families featured have suffered from job loss and the loss of their homes.

“These are circumstances that don’t compare to prior years,” Flores said. “I think it’s very important to be aware of what people in our community are going through.”

MERCEDES

A family of eight here is seeking help from the community to ease their struggles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Hanna.

This family’s mobile home and many of their belongings were damaged as a result of the hurricane, and due to the pandemic, the family of migrant workers were unable to travel this summer.

They are seeking monetary donations to help with their financial struggles as well as to provide Christmas gifts and clothes for the children.

DONNA

A single-mother of six has endured multiple health complications including cancer and an abusive ex-husband.

She works as a healthcare provider three days out of the week, but her medical bills have taken a financial toll on the family. As a result, the woman’s daughter has been unable to see an optometrist.

Her boyfriend has helped provide some monetary assistance, but he has struggled to find work due to the pandemic.

The family is seeking monetary assistance to alleviate some of the medical bills and help pay the rent. They are also asking for clothing for the children to keep them warm during the colder parts of the year.

ROMA

A single-mother and her four children live in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home. She immigrated from Ciudad Mante, Tamaulipas, Mexico in 2002, and her family has endured much hardship since.

Her eldest daughter was a victim of abuse, which ultimately resulted in her being placed in a facility to helper her cope with depression. She was also the victim of bullying in school, forcing her to be homeschooled.

Her oldest son hoped to join the U.S. military, but his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has prevented him from accomplishing that goal.

Her youngest daughter also faced health issues in the form of a bone infection.

The mother lost her job as a result of the pandemic, and she along with her two eldest children have had to go work in the fields in order to make ends meet. She hopes to add a room to the house to better accommodate the family.

McALLEN

A family of two parents and five children here have had to overcome many health issues.

Two of the children are diabetic and dependent on insulin. The youngest child is autistic and has ADHD. Another child is austitc and dyslexic.

The father suffers from Crohn’s disease, and recently lost his job after having to undergo surgeries to have his colon removed.

The mother recently lost her job due to COVID-19, so the family’s sole source of income is the children’s social security. To make matters worse, their refrigerator has stopped working and the electricity has been cut off.

The family is seeking a job opportunity for the mother, preferably one that would allow her to work from home. They also seek anything that would help the children enjoy the holidays.


A single-mother of three children from McAllen has struggled to get by ever since the father of her children was incarcerated, and the pandemic has seemingly made things more difficult for the family.

The children struggle from various disabilities including autism, depression and ADHD. The mother also suffers from depression and anxiety.

She has had little to no luck finding a job that will allow her to work mornings and be home to receive her children from school in the afternoons.

Money from one of her daughters’ social security is used to pay rent and utilities.

The mother is seeking shoes and clothes for the children since she has not been able to buy them new clothes for the school year. They also seek monetary assistance to help with rent and utility bills.


A single-mother of four children in McAllen found herself in the hospital with a broken leg following a car accident. The accident required her to undergo multiple surgeries. It’s been about a year since the accident and she is still recovering from her injuries.

Complications with her knee have made it difficult for her to find a job and provide for her children. Her only source of income is SNAP and unemployment. She has had the electricity shut off multiple times after struggling to make payments.

The family does not have a washer or dryer for their clothes, and recent repairs to the AC unit have set them back. The mother is seeking help providing basic necessities such as food, water and assistance with utilities. Her children would be ecstatic for anything over the holidays.

Donations for these families and more can be made through the United Way of South Texas. They can be reached at (956) 686-6331 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and inquire about contributing to the Spirit of Christmas campaign. Due to COVID-19, only monetary donations are being accepted for families in need.