HARLINGEN — Hilda Reyna remembers the little mesquite bush she and her family turned into a Christmas tree.
“I didn’t understand why we didn’t have a Christmas tree,” the singer and TV host said yesterday. “Then my dad came in with this beautiful little tree. It was mesquite — that’s what grows around here. So we put it together with homemade decorations.”
Growing up in the Rio Hondo area, her family couldn’t afford to put toys under the tree.
“I didn’t grow up with toys,” she said. “They were hard times but I was too little to understand why Santa Claus couldn’t bring what I wrote on the list.”
But her parents taught her the spirit of Christmas.
“My parents used to say we’ve got to give a helping hand to our neighbors,” she said.
For about 10 years, Reyna has shared the Christmas spirit with thousands of poor children in the Rio Grande Valley.
Now, she’s launching a drive to collect toys to give children at an event set for Dec. 21.
So far, Toys for Tots, Matt’s Cash & Carry in San Benito and Valley Baptist Health & Fitness Center have joined the drive, she said.
“It’s about being a helping hand,” she said. “The holiest on this earth are children. Children are innocent and they don’t understand why mom and dad can’t bring what’s on the list. I want to go back to the tradition of giving — going back to the good book. God set the example. He gave us his only begotten son.”
As part of the drive, Reyna is challenging area businesses to donate toys and money to help poor children.
Money donations will go to the La Rancherita & Friends Ministry, a non-profit charity, she said.
“The money will go to where the need is, for such things as clothing, shoes and other needs,” she said.
In exchange for their donations, Reyna said she will announce the participating businesses’ names on her show La Rancherita and Friends TV Show, broadcast on KVEO-TV Channel 23.1 and YouTube.
“I want to give them a special thank you,” Reyna said. “Let’s get together this Christmas and help one another and make it possible to give toys to put a smile on the face of a child,” Reyna said.
– Host – La Rancherita and Friends TV Show
– Recording artist
If you go
La Rancherita and Friends Toy Giveaway
– 2-7 p.m. Dec. 21
– Rialto Event Center, 103 W. Jackson Ave., Harlingen
– Call Hilda Reyna, 956-792-3343