In the corner of the home at Town Plaza Apartments a Christmas tree sat scarcely decorated with a handful of round glass ornaments.
No lights twinkled on its branches.
Reagan stood in the background watching.
Her voice was quiet.
Her words few.
She was concentrating on not letting her children see her cry.
She was happy.
Christmas had come to her home brought by four men dressed in regular clothes and carrying boxes of toys.
John Gutierrez, with Dave Moore Ford, said that this giveaway was the brainchild of Jimmy Lee Arguijo, with Quality Carpets, and him.
Within a month, they had 10 sponsors, including one anonymous businessman who agreed to match any amount they collected.
On Dec. 16, they had $8,000 worth of toys for delivery on Dec. 16 to hundreds of needy youths.
After that distribution, they still had a few boxes left over and they decided that these toys needed to be handed out. So Gutierrez called a few sources to find out who in the community was most in need.
“They gave us a few leads of people in dire need of toys,” he said. “Walking into those apartments they were truly in need.”
Across the way from Reagan’s home, another apartment held another needy family.
Audrick Moorer and his brother Isiaa Moorer’s excitement was brimming as they saw the two men along with Felix Menchaca, with Dave Moore Ford, and Alfredo Benavidez, with Eissler’s Appliances.
Christmas had come to their home.
“We will have a great Christmas,” Isiaa said, eager to open the Transformer toy he was now eyeing on the table.
Next to this was a box of checkers that he was just as excited to open.
“We can play checkers,” he said to Audrick. “One of my friends, she taught me to play.”
Only minutes before, Audrick had heard the knocking on the front door.
A prank, he thought. One of his friends playing a joke.
“I was wondering if it was real,” he said.
Across the way and up another set of stairs, Heather Flores stood in her apartment, watching her brood play in their small living room.
“I want to thank them so much,” she said after the group of plain clothes Santas left her apartment.
It has been a hard year. Work hasn’t been as prolific for her husband, David Castaneda — a fence builder — because of the recent rain.
“It has been raining like crazy,” she said. “We are getting by.”
Heather said times are tougher right now because she is going to Coastal Bend College for her cosmetology degree — all the while raising three children.
“No one can say they can’t do it because I am doing it,” she said.
As she watched her children play, her face glowed with the smile of a happy mother.
“They are going to have fun today,” she said.
After the boxes were empty and the toys all gone, Gutierrez is looking back on the giveaways.
“The way I look at it is, I said I wasn’t going to do it next year, but after seeing all the smiling faces, I am 100 percent certain I will do it next year,” Gutierrez said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.