SAN BENITO — It was a Thanksgiving surprise to remember for a family that was displaced from their home after a fire.
Forced to share living space in a small house with another family, the small crowd of 15 people, including six children, never imagined the generosity of strangers would help them enjoy a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings.
“Just the look on their faces was amazing,” said Karen L. Martinez, one of the volunteers who helped deliver the meal that day. “One of them cried, and you want to cry with them. They really needed it, and they didn’t expect it.”
That was one of many memorable experiences from a Thanksgiving fundraising tradition started in 2016 by Freedom Insurance CEO David A. Perez and Martinez, who is chief operating officer.
Now in its third year, the annual Thanksgiving fundraiser invites members of the community to donate $25, which helps feed a family of four. Corporate donations are also welcome, and organizations that donate $200 or more will get a receipt for tax deduction purposes.
The deadline to contribute is Nov. 10.
This year’s goal is quite ambitious — to feed 2,500 families — but Perez and Martinez feel confident about meeting their goal after witnessing the support from the community.
Dr. C.M. Cash Elementary School, part of the San Benito school district, pledged to fund 40 meals by collecting $25 from each of the 40 classrooms in the school.
“I thought it was brilliant,” Perez said of their fundraising effort.
Jubilee Academy in Harlingen has also pledged to sponsor meals.
Perez credited the San Benito Walmart and the San Benito Food Pantry for their ongoing support to ensure that as much food as possible is purchased with the donated funds. A $25 donation buys a large turkey, gravy, corn, green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes, bread rolls and a 3-liter drink.
“We work with local businesses, like Walmart, who gives us better pricing,” he said. “I have to give a lot of credit to the San Benito Food Pantry. They’re a big part of this.”
Anyone wishing to donate can do so in person at the Freedom Insurance offices, located at 258 S. Sam Houston Blvd., or online at www.gofundme.com/feeding2500.
Volunteer opportunities are also available for Nov. 17, when the meals will be assembled, sorted and distributed throughout San Benito and neighboring cities.
“Not only can they contribute their money, but they can contribute their time, which is more important,” Martinez said. “We need people to help us assemble, even picking up. We need a lot of pickup trucks. Of course, monetary contributions are important. We need people to help us with the routes to deliver the meals.”
For Perez and Martinez, this fundraiser is an opportunity to make a positive impact in the community, especially for children.
“There are a lot of people who don’t get to enjoy a meal as a family. That’s the beauty of this. It’s not about the food, although the food is part of it. We’re trying to give a child a meal with his parents that maybe he wouldn’t have,” he said. “Maybe there’s a family fighting over finances, and maybe they don’t have the money to go buy a turkey. Maybe this will show them that there are people out here who care. We want to make things right for one day. Help them enjoy it as a family. That’s the real goal of this day.”
What you should know
• $25 donation feeds a family of four.
• Deadline to contribute: Nov. 10
• Volunteer opportunities: Nov.17
• Call David Perez or Karen Martinez at (956) 752-3708.