Foundation spreads holiday cheer for Crossroads children
Dec. 23, 2017 at 6:51 p.m.
Updated Dec. 24, 2017 at 3:46 p.m.
PORT LAVACA - Christmas music flowed out of the speakers at the cafeteria of Harrison Jefferson Madison Elementary School on Saturday afternoon as 5-year-old Jazzalyn Baladez ate candy.
With a snowflake painted on her right cheek and a Santa Claus tattoo on her left hand, she remembered what it was like meeting Santa Claus earlier.
"It was great, but he had to go back to the North Pole for Christmas," Jazzalyn said.
Her mother, Catherine Baladez, said Jazzalyn was more than happy to see Old St. Nick.
"She was obsessed. She was so, so happy to see him," Baladez said. "My kids have had so much fun today."
Jazzalyn was one of more than 500 children treated to Lucy's Christmas Wish, an annual party hosted by the Lucia Ornelas Foundation.
Del Ornelas, a family member and president of the foundation, said the foundation works with local schools and Court Appointed Special Advocates in Victoria to identify children in need. Children 12 years old and under are then invited to a day of Christmas cheer. The foundation, along with the help of local businesses - Angel Lucy's Funeral Home and Cesar Ornelas Law Firm - provided food, games, arts and crafts, a photo booth, a visit with Santa Claus and three to four gifts for each child.
"It's not just about the gifts but the fun activities for these children. This isn't something they experience every day, so we try to 'wow' them as much as we can," Ornelas said.
Cousins Devan Villarreal, 11, and Jaeleigh Hubert, 12, said Saturday was a fun day for them.
"My favorite part is all the popcorn they have here," Jaeleigh said after the two had their photo taken at a photo booth.
Devan couldn't decide which part of the event was his favorite.
"I love it all," he said.
Lucy's Christmas Wish also received praise from parents and grandparents at the event, especially those recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Veronica Herrera, of Port Lavaca, said she was glad her 9-year-old daughter, also named Veronica, was selected. The latter part of the year has been rough for many in the community after Harvey, she said, including herself. Her home sustained water damage, and she was unemployed for a few months after the Holiday Inn, where she worked, sustained storm damage. The road to recovery has been a slow one, but Herrera said her family has received blessings in different forms this month.
"It's wonderful what they're doing here for all these children. It's really helping a lot of us this year who have to spend money on repairs from the storm," Herrera said.
Tracy Trejo, of Austwell-Tivoli, brought her four grandsons to the event for the first time. Trejo said she was wowed by all the activities and toys available for the children.
"It was exciting for them, and it was exciting for me to see how happy it made them," Trejo said as she held her grandson, Nolan Venecia, 1. His brown hair was painted orange. "Even he got to participate in some of the games."
Trejo, who is living in Port Lavaca as she recovers from Hurricane Harvey, echoed Herrera's sentiments that the event has helped both children and their parents this year.
"It was a nice, different event. I really appreciate it," Trejo said.