Last week, 27 families were able to use “Buckner Bucks” at the Hope Center to purchase Christmas toys for their children. Parents earn Buckner Bucks throughout the year by volunteering and attending workshops and other educational classes at the Hope Center. In addition to the toys, the Hope Center in partnership with the Houston Food Bank was able to distribute 300 holiday meals to families they serve in Aldine.
“We encourage people to be part of their own solution,” said Shawna Roy, director of the Family Hope Center at Houston/Aldine. “The Lord has given everyone gifts and talents, and he gives them to you to share with other people. We’re doing that, and we’re teaching the families we serve the same concept. So this is not a handout. These families receiving the toys are people who are ready to make a change and willing to do the work.”
Over 1,000 toys were donated by local churches, businesses, schools, legislators and community volunteers.
“Parents want to provide for their children and it breaks their heart when they may find themselves in a situation where they are currently unable to do so,” said Fred Wilson, director of Salient, one of the companies that donated Christmas toys. “We at Salient count it a privilege to provide Christmas presents for these families. We look at this opportunity as Houstonians coming alongside fellow Houstonians to share the love of Christ with these families. The Buckner Family Hope Center at Houston/Aldine is making a huge, positive and lasting impact in the lives of children and families in the Aldine neighborhoods.”
Rosalinda Ramirez is one of the mothers involved with the Hope Center who picked up toys for her three children, ages 13, 11 and 8. She started coming to the Hope Center four years ago when she needed tutoring help to pass her GED.
“It’s a blessing in my life because they have given me the opportunity to grow and to participate in different areas and workshops,” she said.
At the Hope Center she found encouragement and support. With their guidance, she was able to not only pass her GED, but also improve her English language skills, two very important goals for her.
“It’s important to get that support,” Rosalinda said. “The difference is when you meet people who will encourage you to get your goals. For me, it is a good example for my kids to see that school is very important. If I can do it, my kids can do it too. My first language is Spanish, but I did my GED in English and I passed all my tests. It’s a little difficult, but not impossible.”
Now, Rosalinda and her family continue to be involved with the Hope Center, often volunteering and encouraging other families who also need support.
“I like to be involved here,” Rosalinda said. “I like to help because it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and help others in my community.”