Here’s what you need to know about the Caller-Times Children’s Christmas Appeal campaign.
Ricardo and Leslie have just one thing on their Christmas wish list this year, and it’s priceless.
Like many, the couple would like to forget 2020. Their own health issues and the COVID-19 pandemic have made it a year of turmoil for the family.
At the beginning of the year, Ricardo had returned to work after a bout with colon cancer forced him out of his job as a boilermaker in the refineries. His new job making $13 an hour as a carpenter wasn’t like the solid living he had grown used to. But it was work. It kept food on the table for himself, his wife, Leslie, and their 15-year-old nephew, Gilbert, of whom they have custody.
Then the pandemic came along, costing Ricardo his job in July. When it seemed like things couldn’t get worse, he began feeling sick again. He went to the emergency room, where he learned that his cancer may have returned.
The family breathed a sigh of relief Nov. 19 when Ricardo’s test results came back negative.
But as we all have learned, 2020 is relentless. Now Leslie, who has Stage 4 kidney failure and is surviving on one kidney, is facing the possibility of dialysis.
Still, after all their health problems and the pandemic have taken from them, they won’t let it sap their spirit. Sitting outside of their modest green and white trailer — its narrow confines make social distancing inside difficult — the family discussed their circumstances in humble terms, and without a moment of self-pity.
“You’ve just got to deal with it and put it in God’s hands and go forward,” Ricardo said.
Since 1973, The Caller-Times has reported the struggle of needy children and their families during the holiday season. All of the money donated to the Christmas Appeal campaign benefits the children because all overhead costs are borne by the Caller-Times, United Way of the Coastal Bend and participating agencies. (Photo: Rachel Denny Clow/Caller-Times)
The family is scraping by on Ricardo’s unemployment check. “I just got it today and I just turned around and gave it to the rent,” he said.
He’s hoping to find work in the refineries again, but he doesn’t see it happening before the end of the year.
“Right now they’re just closing the books. They’re not going to hire anybody now because of the holidays.”
Christmas is barely on their minds.
“It’s not going to be like another year, like last year’s,” Ricardo said.
If anything, they’d like for Gilbert to have a good holiday. Gilbert is a typical curly-haired 15-year-old, into video games and sports. He’s a tackle on his high school football team.
He has been riding the emotional roller coaster of the family’s health issues, and struggling to stay focused in school while attending class on Zoom.
Yet he’s every bit as humble and respectful as the two he considers his parents.
The family has been through tough times before, and he’s confident they’ll weather them again.
“All I know is it will get better,” he said.
The family represents thousands who will be helped by the Caller-Times Children’s Christmas Appeal. The names of the families profiled have been changed to protect their privacy.
Since 1973, The Caller-Times has reported the struggle of needy children and their families during the holiday season. All the money donated to the Christmas Appeal campaign benefits the children; all overhead costs are borne by the Caller-Times, United Way of the Coastal Bend and participating agencies. This year, the Nueces County Record Star and the Alice Echo-News Journal joined the campaign.
Participating agencies include Boys & Girls Club of Alice, Duval County Christmas Committee, the Kleberg County Welfare Department, Nueces County Department of Social Services, the Odyssey After School Enrichment Program in Rockport, Sinton for Youth Inc. and the Purple Door.
Ricardo and Leslie are looking forward to a better 2021. But in the meantime, they plan to focus on what’s important during the holiday season.
“We just want to be thankful that the family’s together,” Ricardo said.
They’ll get together with Gilbert’s two older sisters, who Ricardo and Leslie also raised.
“As long as we have (family),” Leslie said, “that’s all that matters.”
HOW TO DONATE
Here’s three ways to help:
*Fill out the donation form. Make your check or money order payable to Children’s Christmas Appeal and mail to: United Way of Coastal Bend, 4659 Everhart Road, Corpus Christi, TX, 78411 (designate funds to Children’s Christmas Appeal)
*Donate online at www.uwcb.org. Look for the Christmas Appeal logo.
*Text ChristmasAppeal (no spaces) to 41444 to make a donation.
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