by Chad McDuffee

Every year for Christmas the Runnel’s County Sheriffs Office conducts a toy drive for children of the area to ensure that every child can have gifts under their tree. It seems like every year there are more and more people that get behind this action. In a year like 2020 where employment can change from week to week due to situations outside of your control it is more important than ever that we take care of our youth.

KRUN has been hosting a toy drive for the past three years with all toys collected going to the RCSO toy drive. This year a local food venue has sweetened the pot as well. Despite having recently just launched his own business in B-Town Bar B Que in Ballinger and Bulldog Bar B Que in Miles Edward James Garcia is cooking up four holiday meals that you can be entered to win when you drop off your items at KRUN or if you drop off directly to B-Town or Bulldog Bar B Que you will get 10% off of your meal. This is a great example of businesses going above and beyond what they have to do to take care of our children.

Tony Flores, who also organizes the Hotter than Hell spring/summer cookoff, and Ballinger Police Chief Stan Maresch put together the Coal Burning Cookoff on December 4th and 5th, where they raised not only monetary donations, but toys as well. All the toys were donated to the RCSO to be distributed to families in need. People donating gifts ranged from grillmasters, citizens, people coming in just for the food and motorcycle clubs that made the trip just to drop off toys.

Ballinger residents Oscar Galindo and Aaron Quiroga also put together a little something to help bring the giving spirit. The two men organized a kickball tournament fundraiser and used the funds generated to purchase toys for the Runnels County Toys for Tots.

About why they did it? Oscar had this to say, “I would be at home and my mom would walk in with a black trash bag, sometimes huge, sometimes small, my mom would rush us out of the house so she could wrap the presents. Me and my oldest sister knew it was from the sheriffs department because it happened yearly, we knew it would be a football or a basketball for me, a doll or bear for her and some other stuff but we always appreciated being able to open something on Christmas Day. Our electricity or gas would get cut off monthly, we lived off of food stamps and WIC, we had decent clothes but nothing fancy so we knew the struggle was real! This year me and Aaron Quiroga put our heads together to see what we could do to help out this 2020, we came up with kickball, family game, crazy fun and could have a good turn out, so we threw a tournament. We had three teams sign up and had a blast. We had more but due to Covid, basketball and work we had some drop out. Still we had a heck of a turnout and raised some good funds. It’s crazy how life goes from you being the on the receiving side to you giving, the lord has blessed me in more ways than one and allowed me to be able to give back. Me and my sister would talk and say that we would change our sense of direction and raise our kids different! I think we have done that.”

The two men plan to make the kickball tournament a yearly event and hope it continues to grow in the future.

Joe Fuentes, owner and operator of Smokey Joe’s Competition BBQ and Catering already gave away some free food on Thanksgiving, but wants to do it again for Christmas. He is cooking and delivering food to homeless in the San Angelo area. He is not requesting help, but if anyone would like to give some pies, blankets or pillows that he can hand out while giving these people a warm meal he will gladly accept it.

In a year in which everyones lives have been thrown out of focus it is these great actions of ordinary people that show how truly generous and kind-spirited people can be. Just people, with their own lives, jobs, bills and worries putting the welfare of others before their own. Even if only for a day or two. An act so small, yet so caring could indeed change someone’s life.

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