Local group makes children's Christmas wishes come true
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 23, 2012
12/23/12 at 8:15 AM
Thanks to the efforts of a local advocacy group, the Christmas dreams of a lot of area youngsters will come true this year.
The Coalition for the American Dream's "Proyecto Angelitos" featured the distribution on Saturday of more than 100 Christmas gifts to children aged two to 14 years old who otherwise might have had a blue Christmas.
Coalition president Marvin Lizama said this was the sixth year for the project, designed to reach families not helped by similar Christmas gift drives.
"It takes a lot of work but it's all worth it," Lizama said before 140 neatly wrapped gifts were distributed Saturday at the Pancho Anaya bakery at 11685 E. 21st St.
"It's all about the kids."
According to its website, the coalition advocates for the constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and liberties of all individuals living in Oklahoma, regardless of race, creed or immigration status. Its mission is "to work toward building a nation of tolerance and inclusion that advances individuals' goals to achieve the American Dream."
Lizama said Saturday the group has discovered during its outreach efforts that there are a lot of families who find it difficult to buy groceries and pay their monthly electric bills, much less buy Christmas gifts.
"There's a lot of need in the community," coalition secretary Blanca Zavala said.
Lizama said the process to choose who received the Christmas gifts was not as formal as is it typically is for similar efforts by other groups.
To determine which families received the gifts donated by various individuals and organizations, Zavala went door to door in the most economically challenged parts of the city to get a firsthand look at their living conditions.
The smiles of the children who picked up their presents on Saturday showed what the project is all about.
"I want to say thank you," said 10-year-old Vanessa Vazquez, whose smiling 8-year-old brother, Gabriel, also gleefully hugged a present. "Merry Christmas to everyone!"
Lizama said the cost of the average gift given away on Saturday was about $50. Volunteer Bonnie Crook, who did some of the wrapping, said she noticed that the gifts consisted of nice items like remote-controlled cars.
Fellow volunteer Noah Gentges said he found helping out with the toy distribution to be "really fulfilling. It gives you a real sense of the community."
Rene and Alejandra Ramos were on hand Saturday to pick up gifts for five of their children who qualified for the program. They expressed their gratitude and hope that they can pay it back in kind as soon as next year.
Alejandra said this has been rough year financially for the couple, but she hopes in the future they can be in a position to contribute financially to the program so that others can receive gifts.
Lizama and Zavala said the coalition's work will continue on Sunday and Monday when food baskets are distributed to needy families.
Original Print Headline: Joy to the kids
David Harper 918-581-8359
Noah Gentges (left) hands out Christmas gifts to Lorely Ortiz (right) and Carolina Ortiz (purple jacket) at the Panaderia Pancho Anaya bakery in Tulsa on Saturday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Julisa Ramos (right) gets a hug from Santa (Juan Miret) after picking up a Christmas present. The Coalition for the American Dream gave dozens of presents to needy families at the annual event. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Dalsuum Mang Hatzaw looks at a Christmas gift at the Panaderia Pancho Anaya bakery in Tulsa on Saturday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Rene Ramos Jr. (left) holds up a Christmas present as his parents Rene Ramos (center) and Alejandra Ramos (right) load his siblings' gifts into the family car at the Panaderia Pancho Anaya bakery in Tulsa on Saturday. The Coalition for the American Dream gave dozens of presents to needy families at the annual event. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World