"Llena la Media / Fill the Stocking" Initiative Delivers Christmas Joy
by Flor Saldivar, Diocesan Coordinator for Immigrant & Refugee Ministries
From Port Aransas to San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley, congregations and individuals in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas came together this Christmas to bring support and cheer to their neighbors across the border.
After one of the most challenging years in history brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, migrants residing in camps and temporary shelters along the Rio Grande River also faced the flooding of their homes and a hurricane, further adding to their distress. In November, diocesan Immigration Ministries participated enthusiastically in the Team Brownsville “Llena la Media / Fill the Stocking” Initiative, to ensure the hundreds of children residing at the Matamoros tent encampment received a Christmas stocking.
In addition to working with Team Brownsville and its co-founder Andrea Rudnik, Immigration Ministries partnered with Senda de Vida, a faith-based migrant shelter in Reynosa, Mexico. The collected stockings would be divided among the children in the Matamoros encampment and Senda de Vida. In total, 237 stockings and 33 instruments were contributed to the initiative by church members across the Diocese.
Marilu Lira, co-director of Senda de Vida and wife of its founder, Pastor Hector Silva, shares, “We worked hard to make this a special Christmas for the children of the shelter. We are a smaller organization, and due to limited funds, we planned to distribute candy bags to the children for Christmas. The children will be so excited to receive the stockings. We are blessed that God has connected us and thank the people who donated the items.”
Approximately 90 milessoutheast of Reynosa, the Matamoros tent encampment hosts 650 migrants. TeamBrownsville planned their Christmas and Dia de Reyes Magos, Three Kings Day or Epiphany, celebration empowered by an overwhelming groundswell of support from across the country.
“We received over 1,000 stockings, that volunteers have distributed in the encampment as well as in the poorest colonias in Matamoros and Brownsville,” said Rudnik. “Children will receive them in different places, but they will all be grateful to receive your gifts. Thank you so much for your generosity.”
As Immigration Ministries makes plans for the new year, looking forward to new opportunities and partnerships in 2021 even while in-person outreach activities remain limited, your stockings, no matter how big or small, fancy or simple, written letters, and support serve as outstanding reminders to our neighbors that they are not alone in this difficult time. Please remember, the work does not end here, there is much more to do!
To request more information about Immigration Ministries’ work or how to get involved, email Flor Saldivar, Coordinator for Immigrant & Refugee Ministries, at firstname.lastname@example.org, subscribe to receive a weekly Immigration Ministries Update, or visit dwtx.org/immigration.