Staff members at the Alice Health and Human Services office were surprised and touched on Friday, Aug. 16, when two young people arrived on their doorstep with several bags full of items to donate to the Rainbow Room.
Lauren, Andrew "A.J." and Oscar Daniel Herrera, the children of Oscar and Jessica Herrera, were inspired by a movie titled, "Little Red Wagon."
Their mother said the family was watching Netflix one night when she saw the description of the movie - based on the true story of a young boy who, moved by the plight of homeless children, takes his red wagon and begins a movement of philanthropy.
The Herrera children were inspired by the movie - particularly Lauren, 11, a student at Memorial Intermediate. She and her brothers, A.J., 8, who attends Noonan Elementary, and Oscar Daniel, 14, who is a student at William Adams Middle School, decided to make a difference.
"It was a boy who was helping a family after Hurricane Charley," A.J. said of the movie. "It was a family that lost everything in a hurricane," their father, Oscar Herrera said. "And their home - they were completely homeless, eating out of dumpsters and that one kid decides that he wants to help - and they didn't know. They didn't know that that really happens in real life."
"I'm excited for them," their mother, Jessica Herrera said. "I'm glad that they did it. I think, the fact that they all grouped up, it all started from the movie we were watching. I like for my kids to see that kind of stuff because a lot of times, they don't think that some people in some places, they don't have the kinds of blessings we do. I like the fact that this is something that they really wanted to do. I think it really made them realize that there's kids out there that don't have their blessings."
Lauren discussed the idea with her mother, and after doing some research on the Internet, decided to donate to the local Rainbow Room. Lauren at first planned a mission for the homeless, but after visiting the Rainbow Room website and reading a couple of the stories, changed her mind.
"She was really crying - it really touched her. We are so blessed. We really have super-duper good kids. We definitely, our family, put Jesus Christ first in everything. And it all follows," Jessica Herrera said.
The children's father said, "It was a surprise. I didn't know anything about it until they started doing it. And she (Lauren) had posters and flyers and I didn't know what the Rainbow Room was until she started telling me about it.
We just always try to teach them, always talking to them about not taking stuff for granted. Just because you can walk to your fridge and grab something to eat - not everybody has that. Or go to your closet and put on something nice to wear - not everybody has that. And they're starting to understand. I guess they really didn't know before, and she (Lauren) started researching and she saw a lot."
Lauren printed up a number of flyers and she and her brothers passed them out around their neighborhood, asking for donations of canned goods, formula and diapers.
The neighbors came through in a big way, dropping off a number of different items at the family's "donation site" in their garage, complete with posters. Lauren also earned a little bit of money and used it to buy additional supplies. "Lauren donated all of her jewelry," her mother said with a proud smile.
Lauren said she plans to be a dentist, and "I was thinking I could give free services to people that need that stuff." Her brothers also embody the spirit of giving.
"It made me feel real glad," A.J. said. "I want to be a pastor. When I was like a baby, before I could even talk I went, 'I want to be a pastor, or something like that.'"
Older brother Oscar Daniel was not there for the donation drop-off, but was involved in the efforts. He also spends time every month helping with the Three Rivers Pastors Fellowship at the Food Bank. He pulls and helps to stock and label food as well as helping the elderly to carry it out to their vehicles.
"I've been doing this for awhile - close to a year. It's like a mission, pretty much. I've met a lot of people, and they've told me their stories. I've made friends with a lot of people; and there's these guys, they're in prison but they're studying to be pastors over there and really trying to change their lives."
He said of the Rainbow Room collection, "We're helping other kids that can't have stuff like us. It just was good to donate, because we're just helping them and God is, too."
Jessica Herrera said when the family went to drop off the items, the entire back end of their car was full. "I'm proud of them that they can realize that not everybody has the same opportunities they do. I'm really proud of them," Jessica Herrera said. "There were lots of bags. We have Bible studies here at the house every week and they had a huge stack of Bibles - I think they may have given maybe 40 Bibles, 30 or 40 necklaces, tons of brand new shoes, undergarments..."
"We'll support them 100 percent in whatever they want to do," she continued. "No matter what they decide to do, we're behind them all the way. Last year at Christmas time, they did a 'Secret Santa.' They found a couple of needy kids at their school and we were able to sneak a couple of gifts to them without anybody knowing it was us. We never want them to know." The family said they wanted to thank Dr. Nisimblat's office for their donations - especially Ellie, who took the flyer to the office.
The children dedicated their effort to the memory of their grandmother, Linda Herrera, who passed away in March.
"It was a nice surprise to have received donations like this - that we were not anticipating - from the children in the community," Regional Rainbow Room Coordinator Emma Menchaca said.
"Honestly, it certainly did touch a lot of the staff here in the (CPS) office to see those kids come in with the donations. I'm grateful to see those kids - the hope that they provide for the youth in the community. I guess seeing them really makes me step back and go, 'Wow, there is hope for the youth.'"
Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Article comment by:
As A Grand Parent, I must say that I am so Proud Of My Grand Kids. It is nice to see that there is hope for our kids, and we must be GOOD Examples to them. God Bless You Herrera Family, LOVE Grand Pa. Muah!
Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013
Article comment by:
That's so sad because I know the father's son and his wife just had a baby